The China-Africa Agricultural Forum jointly hosted by the International Department of the CPC Central Committee (IDCPC) and the Ministry of Agriculture of the People's Republic of China drew to a successful conclusion on August 12th. Minister Wang Jiarui of the IDCPC received an interview with this newspaper after the Forum, in which he answered questions about the outcomes of the Forum and the role of the CPC's external exchanges in promoting bilateral and multilateral practical cooperation.
Correspondent: It is agreed by both the Chinese and African sides that the China-Africa Agricultural Forum was a great success. Could you tell us some basic information about the Forum?
Wang: The Forum was the first collective dialogue on agricultural cooperation made possible through the channel of inter-party relations between China and Africa within the framework of China-Africa cooperation. The CPC Central Committee has paid great attention to the Forum. Xi Jinping, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and vice-president of China, found the time to meet with African delegates attending the Forum. Hui Liangyu, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and vice-premier of the State Council, delivered a keynote speech at the closing ceremony of the Forum and attended the signing ceremony of China-Africa agricultural cooperation projects. Liu Qi, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and secretary of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee met with and held a banquet for the African delegates. Attending the Forum from the Chinese side include officials or delegates from the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Finance, the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League and the State Administration of Grain; leading officials or people in charge of agriculture from local governments; as well as representatives of financial institutions and agriculture-related businesses. African political parties have shown great enthusiasm about the Forum. Over 100 delegates from 18 countries, including 4 high-level party or government officials and 14 agriculture ministers, attended the Forum. The Forum has been a gathering of the highest level and largest scale between China and Africa in the area of agriculture. As co-hosts, the IDCPC and the Ministry of Agriculture had had serious preparations to make sure that the Forum a great success. At the Forum, the two sides had extensive exchange of views on the opportunities and challenges for bilateral agricultural cooperation under new circumstances. In-depth discussions were carried out on the ways and means of comprehensive China-Africa agricultural cooperation. Strategic consensus was reached which led to the adoption of the Beijing Declaration of China-Africa Agricultural Forum. The two sides recognized the great significance of China-Africa agricultural cooperation and determined to use the Forum as a platform to push bilateral cooperation in agriculture to greater depth with a pragmatic spirit to bring real benefits to the African and Chinese people. The Forum has promoted practical agricultural cooperation between China and Africa. The two sides have signed agreements on agricultural cooperation. Businesses from the two sides are expected to sign a number of letters of intent at the China-Africa Cooperation Projects Promotion Session following the Forum.
Correspondent: There are many areas for cooperation between China and Africa. Why did you choose agricultural cooperation as the theme of exchanges and dialogues between Chinese and African political parties?
Wang: China is the largest developing country. Food security will be a long-term task for us. While Africa is the continent where the largest number of developing countries concentrate, which also suffers the most severe food shortage and needs most food aid. Therefore, it is a common task for China and Africa to safeguard food security, promote agricultural development, and maintain economic and social stability.
To consolidate and develop the friendly relations of cooperation with African countries has been an important cornerstone of China's foreign policy as well as a long-term strategic principle of China. In 2006, the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was successfully held where Chinese and African leaders agreed to establish and develop a new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa. Last year, the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of FOCAC was successfully held in Egypt, which laid plans for China-Africa cooperation in the next 3 years. The external work of the CPC is part and parcel of overall state foreign diplomacy. It is an important mission in carrying out the Party's external work to promote the development of China-Africa relations and to facilitate China-Africa pragmatic cooperation in various areas. In recent years, China-Africa agricultural cooperation has been constantly deepening and expanding, with increasingly mature cooperation mechanisms, richer forms of cooperation and effective operation of cooperation projects. In the process of our exchanges with African political parties, many African party or government leaders have shown great interest in the achievements and experiences that China has accumulated in agricultural development. They also expressed the wish that through the channel of inter-party exchanges, overall plans would be laid out for China-Africa agricultural cooperation from a strategic height and means and ways be explored for comprehensive agricultural cooperation in an active and pragmatic spirit. We chose agricultural cooperation as theme of the Forum with the hope that though the party channel we will build new platforms and give new impetus for enhancing exchanges and deepening cooperation in agriculture. The Forum conforms to the development of new situation, the real and long-term interests of both sides as well as the respective development strategies of China and Africa. Therefore, it counts as real action in implementing the new eight measures put forward at the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of FOCAC.
We believe that the Forum is just a beginning. The CPC will continue to be committed to the content and forms of China-Africa agricultural cooperation to improve its quality and level and to write new chapters in China-Africa pragmatic cooperation together with African political parties.
Correspondent: We have noticed that in recent years the external work of the CPC is more extensively and deeply involved in promoting bilateral and multilateral practical cooperation, as demonstrated by the China-Africa Agricultural Forum and similar events. What are the considerations behind?
Wang: In addition to promoting practical cooperation between China and Africa, the China-Africa Agricultural Forum has also enriched the content of inter-party exchanges between China and Africa. Built on this, the inter-party relations between China and Africa will play a more active role in facilitating practical cooperation between the two sides in more extensive areas and contribute more to deepening China-Africa relations.
Over the past 30 years since reform and opening up, the external work of the Party has always centered on the central tasks of the Party and the state. It has also adjusted the focuses of serving domestic development by the external work in promoting bilateral and multilateral practical cooperation based on the process of reform and the need of domestic development. After the outbreak of the international financial crisis in 2008, the central leadership defined maintaining steady and relatively fast economic growth as top priority and "safeguarding growth, expanding domestic demand, structural readjustment, and promoting a sound and rapid economic growth" as central tasks. Correspondingly we mobilized our resources in inter-party relations to serve the central tasks. At the beginning of 2008, we held the "China-Africa SME Cooperation Forum" in Zhejiang Province, which made possible quite a few cooperation projects. It was followed by the "China-Arab/Africa Medium and Small Businesses Cooperation Forum", the "2010 Yangzhou and Gulf Arab States Petrochemical Industrial Cooperation Forum", and the ICAPP Conference on Poverty Alleviation. All these events have drawn warm participation, helped domestic businesses in coping with the financial crisis and built platforms for economic cooperation with relevant countries and regions. The China-Africa Agricultural Forum was another successful attempt to promote practical cooperation through the inter-party channel.
We believe that these rich practices have realized the purpose of serving the cause of Socialist modernization by combining the resources accumulated in the Party's external relations with domestic needs, while at the same time uplifting and deepening inter-party relations. We will continue to explore new ways and make greater contributions in deepening relations with foreign political parties, promoting the development of state-to-state relations and deepening the friendship with people around the world.
Source: People's Daily