ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 11, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Participants pose for a group photo during the opening of the 32nd African Union (AU) summit of heads of state and government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 10, 2019. The two-day session kicked off here on Sunday under the theme
ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 11, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Participants pose for a group photo during the opening of the 32nd African Union (AU) summit of heads of state and government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 10, 2019. The two-day session kicked off here on Sunday under the theme "Refugees, Returnees, and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa." (Xinhua/Micharl Tewelde)

As African leaders concluded their two-day gathering as part of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU), officials have hailed Africa’s strategic cooperation with China under the umbrella of the AU.

From the Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat to the AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui, as well as various other AU commissioners and heads of the pan African bloc’s specialized agencies, all have spoken highly of China’s growing win-win cooperation with the AU and the African continent in general.

GROWING OVERALL COOPERATION

The AU, which officially launched its representation office in Beijing, China in September, 2018, during the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), said that Africa and China, as the two historical allies, had over the years registered remarkable development in their relations.

Faki, while addressing the opening session of the two-day 32nd AU summit that opened on Sunday, said that China and the pan-African bloc AU had been enjoying “unprecedentedly dynamic” partnership in various areas.

“The remarkable success of FOCAC held in Beijing in September 2018 illustrates the unprecedented dynamism of our partnership,” Faki said.

“The opening of an AU office in Beijing will obviously strengthen this multifarious and fruitful partnership, including the strategic dialogue between the AU Commission and the People’s Republic of China,” he added.

Faki’s positive comment about AU-China ties was also echoed by Emmanuel Nnadozie, executive secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), the AU’s specialized agency for capacity development.

Speaking to Xinhua on Monday, Nnadozie highlighted the role of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Beijing FOCAC Summit in further strengthening Africa-China ties.

“We are extremely grateful to the Chinese government for the agreement during the last FOCAC Summit,” Nnadozie told Xinhua, referring to an accord between Chinese and African leaders.

“We (at the ACBF) have just completed a study on how Africa can benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative because it is highly anticipated here in Africa and China as well,” he said.

GROWING PEACE AND SECURITY TIES

AU’s Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui told Xinhua on Monday that China was a good partner to the AU that helped the continental body face numerous peace and security challenges in Africa, ranging from efforts to end the civil war in South Sudan to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in conflict-hit Mali.

“China is a very good partner of the AU. China has made concrete contributions to the AU’s peace and security efforts,” said Chergui.

“The AU and China have many areas of cooperation ranging from the deployment of Chinese peacekeepers in conflict areas, to technical and logistical support for the numerous peacekeeping efforts in Africa,” the peace and security commissioner stressed.

“China is an important partner for Africa and the AU in general,” Chergui said, adding: “I would like to extend my appreciation for the high level of cooperation and political dialogue we have and we will continue to reinforce this dialogue.”

China is the second largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget and the 11th largest provider of UN peacekeepers.

Chinese peacekeepers have served in several UN mandated peacekeeping missions across Africa, including those in South Sudan, Sudan’s Darfur region, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali.

Chergui emphasized that the relationship between the AU and China was not restricted to peace and security aspects.

“We have other domains of cooperation including health, energy, and infrastructure to mention some of the multifaceted relationships,” he said.

AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Minata Samate-Cessouma, who commended China’s support to Africa’s causes on the international stage, mainly at the UN Security Council, also affirmed Africa’s common position concerning collaboration with China in the peace and security arena.

“China has been actively supporting the work of the AU,” Samate-Cessouma affirmed.

“Over the years, China has been actively supporting the AU’s mediation role in various conflicts in Africa, including the conflict in Sudan and South Sudan as well as the parties within South Sudan,” she said.

“There are many important roles and examples made by China,” Samate-Cessouma said, adding that “China has helped all sides to get back to the negotiating table.”

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Alie Kabba also told Xinhua on the sidelines of the summit that the growing China-Africa cooperation in peace and security demonstrated the overall deep partnership between Africa and China.

“It is time when the focus on peace and security in Africa is at the central stage in the African Union’s efforts to make sure that Africa becomes a continent where there is no conflict, and we have the capacity to prevent and resolve conflicts,” Kabba said.

Senegal’s Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mame Baba Cisse also said that “China has been contributing to the peace building and security in Africa”.

Baba Cisse further stressed that China “has become a natural partner for Africa” in maintaining peace and stability in the African continent as well as overall development sectors.

Africa and China “have been engaged in win-win cooperation, and our partnership is based on sincerity, affinity, good-faith, and good results,” Cisse said.

COOPERATION IN CAPACITY DEV’T

According to the ACBF, young African enthusiasts have “really contributed to Africa’s development” after undertaking their studies in China with scholarships granted from the Chinese government.

“We have been monitoring with satisfaction in many aspects the support that the Chinese government has been giving to really promote capacity development in areas of need,” ACBF’s executive secretary Emmanuel Nnadozie told Xinhua on the sidelines of the AU summit.

“We are aware of the hundreds and thousands of scholarships that have been given to Africa’s young people to study in China, and to be able to return to Africa and help to promote development,” Nnadozie affirmed.

Africa is a major recipient of China’s capacity development support, according to the ACBF. By the end of 2017, the Chinese government had trained 5,655 participants of different professions for Ethiopia, covering over 20 fields that included education, health and medical services, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing industries, public administration, business management, urban development and poverty reduction, according to the Chinese Embassy in Addis Ababa.

“We really commend that, and wish that the Chinese government will continue in this area,” Nnadozie told Xinhua.

According to ACBF, China’s capacity development support to Africa also contributes in tackling the migration of desperate African youth via dangerous routes to Europe and the Middle East.

CHINA’S ROLE IN STRENGTHENING THE GLOBAL MULTILATERALISM PLATFORM

“We welcome China’s involvement, because it gives us the sense that we have a fundamental foundation in strengthening multilateralism across borders,” Sierra Leone’s minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Alie Kabba, said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua during the summit.

Noting the rising resistance against multilateralism in recent years, Kabba spoke highly of China’s growing contribution in the global arena as a major actor to fill the gaps that are witnessed in maintaining the multilateralism system.

“The future calls for greater collaboration among nations because that’s the only way we can address the issues confronting humanity today,” he said, adding that “it is very clear now that the era of multilateralism is here. Those who resisted are just taken to the past”.

“We believe that in coming together to make sure that we achieve a shared future for everybody is the way forward,” he said.

“When we see China stepping up, it gives us the sense that we are moving in the right direction,” he added. Enditem

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