Work Together to Fight Poverty and Achieve Common Prosperity

Keynote Speech by Foreign Minister Wang Yi
At the Opening Ceremony of the China-Africa High-Level Dialogue and
Think Tank Forum on Fighting Against Poverty for Common Prosperity

Your Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Distinguished Experts,
Friends from the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be here at the African Union (AU) Conference Center, a symbol of China-Africa friendship, and attend the opening ceremony of the China-Africa High-Level Dialogue and Think Tank Forum on Fighting Against Poverty for Common Prosperity. On behalf of the Chinese side, I would like to offer our congratulations on the successful opening of the forum, extend our thanks to the AU Commission for its thoughtful arrangements and welcome all of you to today's event.

This is my 12th visit to Africa since I became China's foreign minister. My job has taken me to 31 African countries and allowed me to see first hand the progress in Africa's development and the robust China-Africa cooperation and personally experience the deep-rooted friendship between China and Africa. China always believes that the 21st century belongs as much to Asia as to Africa and all the developing countries.

The world today is seeing greater uncertainties and destabilizing factors. Peace and development are far from being achieved in many parts of the world. Close to 400 million people in Africa live under the poverty line, and more than 40 million Chinese need to be lifted out of poverty. China and Africa need to join hands in fighting poverty and achieving common development. This is our responsibility to the future generations, the shared objective of Chinese and African people and the inherent part of human progress.

Over the past 40 years, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese government and people have committed themselves to reform and opening up and embarked on a successful path of development. China has lifted over 700 million Chinese out of poverty and contributed 70% to the UN Millennium Development Goal on poverty reduction, creating a miracle in the world development history. President Xi Jinping has now proposed to build a community of shared future for mankind, where we will strive for a better life not just for the Chinese people but also those around the world, especially in developing countries.

As a Chinese saying goes, "A single flower does not make spring; One hundred flowers in full blossom bring spring to the garden". As stressed by President Xi, China's relations with Africa must be built on the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith and the values of friendship, justice and shared interests. In other words, we need to take into full account of Africa's needs and synergize China's development with that of Africa to realize common development and prosperity. Today, Chairman Moussa Faki and I want to join the think tanks, experts and media representatives from China and Africa to share development experience, discuss cooperation ideas, pool wisdom for Africa's poverty reduction and development and plan China-Africa mutually beneficial cooperation. I look forward to your deep insights and practical recommendations that are suited to Africa's realities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The book, Up and Out of Poverty, records the thinking and actions of President Xi in the area of poverty reduction when he worked in Ningde, Fujian Province. While the local per capita GDP was just US$198 when he first started out as Ningde's party secretary in 1988, it exceeded US$8,000 last year. The book tells the success story of how the once poverty-stricken city got itself out of poverty and embarked on development by leveraging its own advantages and with the help of sound policy-making. The thoughts, ideas and policies laid out in the book were not only key to Ningde's success in poverty reduction and development, but were also an epitome of the whole country's successful experience in reform and opening-up. Let me quote a few lines from the book: "Poverty alleviation requires a change of attitude and the support of education"; "developing the economy is our political priority"; and "the weak hatchling bird can be the first to take flight". The book also emphasized tailoring policies to local conditions, action-taking and giving "equal importance to growing the economy and keeping the government clean". Today, they continue to guide China in meeting its poverty reduction targets and are highly relevant for other developing countries in their poverty reduction efforts.

In light of the interest of African leaders, the book was translated into English and French and published at the end of last year. Both of the two books, Xi Jinping: The Governance of China and Up and Out of Poverty, have been well received in many countries. I believe they will be really helpful to our African friends present here today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has made the solemn commitment to build China into a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020 when the CPC celebrates its centenary, and eliminating poverty across the country is one of the important preconditions. We are fully confident in delivering on this goal. Both Ningde's encouraging story and the nationwide progress against poverty show that the following four principles are particularly important.

First, fully leverage one's own strengths. As a major developing country with over 1.3 billion people, China has no precedent to follow in poverty alleviation and development. What we have been pursuing is to give full play to the political and institutional advantages of the CPC leadership and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, and learn from but not mechanically copy other's experience. As such, we have gradually embarked on a successful path of reducing poverty through development with distinct Chinese features.

Second, take development as the central task. Development is the "master key" to solving all problems. The CPC and governments at all levels have taken the economy as the central task, made development the top priority in governance, concentrated all efforts on it and rallied the whole nation in this endeavor. Consequently, China has become the world's second largest economy in just a few decades. And a solid material foundation is laid for poverty alleviation.

Third, design tailor-made policies based on local conditions. When in Ningde, President Xi made many fact-finding trips to explore its advantages and decided to develop agriculture based on local strengths and the processing and manufacturing industry as the two economic pillars, which proved to be the right formula that took Ningde out of poverty. As China is such a big country with diverse strengths by regions, we encourage tailor-made development plans and take targeted approach to roll back poverty, which has uplifted the overall development of the country.

Fourth, pursue opening-up and cooperation. While remain committed to opening up, China has actively adapted itself to globalization, seized the historic opportunities in the global adjustment and shift of industries and actively participated in various forms of international cooperation. We continue to update our development concepts, strengthen laws and regulations and introduce policy incentives. All these have made China a popular investment destination with sustained fast economic growth, and also led to remarkable advances in China's poverty reduction cause.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China and Africa are now facing historic opportunities of cooperation. The Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in December 2015 was a big success and ushered in a new era of China-Africa cooperation for win-win outcomes and common development. President Xi announced at the summit that China and Africa will focus on implementing "ten cooperation plans" in the next three years, including one on poverty reduction and development, which echo the urgent needs of African countries. At the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation successfully held last month in Beijing, President Xi highlighted the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit, with a view to realizing common development and prosperity and building a community of shared future for mankind. This ambitious vision has lent fresh impetus to and opened up new vista for China-Africa cooperation.

China and Africa have always been a community of shared interests and future. We stand ready to seize the opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative, synergize the "ten cooperation plans" with the Agenda 2063 and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation, to support African countries in achieving independent and sustainable development and eliminating poverty at an early date.

First, China will step up the sharing of governance experience with Africa, formulate sound plans, identify respective strengths and future cooperation priorities, and jointly explore a pathway out of poverty and toward development as needed by African countries. While we will share our experience with African friends without any reservation, we will never impose our own will on anyone.

Second, China will work with Africa to link up development strategies, pursue efficient and high quality development, and focus on projects with solid economic and social returns, as effective ways to tackle the three bottlenecks of underdeveloped infrastructure, inadequate human capital and lack of financial resources on a priority basis and create favorable conditions for poverty reduction and development. It is also important to avoid ill-considered investment and financing which might expose Africa to debt risks and financial burden, and keep Africa's anti-poverty cause on a sustainable path.

Third, China will contribute to an enabling environment for Africa to fight poverty. Stability is the prerequisite for poverty reduction and development. We will actively support African countries' capacity building in national defense, peacekeeping, law and order and counter-terrorism to address African issues by themselves, and help Africa concentrate on poverty reduction in a stable environment and improve employment, subsistence and health in particular, which are the three critical aspects of people's livelihood.

Fourth, China will actively encourage the international community to support Africa in scaling up efforts against poverty. We welcome diversified partnerships for Africa and call on all parties to reject the outdated mentality of zero-sum game and embrace the new thinking of win-win cooperation. Developed countries, in particular, should further increase their attention and input to Africa's poverty reduction cause, truly honor their commitment, and jointly help Africa achieve durable peace, development and prosperity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Both China and Africa are standing at a new starting point for development and rejuvenation. We have the confidence, capability and wisdom to strengthen solidarity and cooperation to fight against poverty, strive for common prosperity, and jointly embrace a brighter future.

To conclude, let me once again wish this event a great success.

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