Addis Ababa — CHINA has reaffirmed its commitment to strengthen its cooperation with Africa, stressing that ties will focus on respect for human rights and mutual benefit, a top Chinese official said here on Sunday at the opening of the 18th Ordinary session of the African Union Assembly.
The Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Mr Jia Qinglin, said China firmly commits itself to enhancing solidarity and cooperation with African countries. He said his country supports African efforts for greater strength through unity and the integration process. "China firmly supports a greater African role in international and regional affairs," he said.
"China will adhere to the principles of mutual benefit and common development, making sure that our assistance will be results-oriented and that we are not going to interfere in the internal affairs of the recipient countries," said Jia. He condemned cases where powerful countries bullied poor and developing countries as a condition for extending aid.
"This is not part of China's foreign policy," he said amid long applause from over 1,500 delegates. The Chinese government has encouraged competitive and reputable Chinese companies to invest in Africa and has taken many measures to guide such efforts and providing concessional loans.
The stock of Chinese investment in Africa surged from 490 million US dollars at the end of 2003 to 14.7 billion US dollars in 2011, which covers various fields including mining, finance, manufacturing, construction, tourism, agriculture, forestry, livestock farming and fishery. Jia said China highly values its relations with the AU.
"Thanks to the concerted efforts of both sides, China-AU relations have achieved comprehensive and rapid growth with bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields deepening continuously," he said. Jia announced that China will provide 600 million RMD support to AU over the next three years.
Earlier, the AU Commission Chairman, Dr Jean Ping, presented a long catalogue of achievements and challenges of the union, calling for solidarity and unity for more gains. He listed the challenges as continued tension and unrest in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Egypt and some other parts of the continent.
He noted that the progress in Somalia was highly encouraging and prospects for peace were now real. The AU Commission chief paid tribute to African and Somali troops who made supreme sacrifice in the process of restoration of peace in Somalia and other parts of Africa. Outgoing AU Chairman, President Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea said during his one-year term Africa was faced with a post-election crisis in Ivory Coast as well as the Arab Spring revolutions.
"We need a situation where African leaders are more united and show solidarity especially in dealing with interference from external powers," he said. Last year, external forces were used in Ivory Coast and Libya. New AU Chairman, Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi pledged to consolidate the gains achieved by the Union including maintaining peace, security and tranquillity on the continent as well as ensuring transition in Egypt and Libya was concluded smoothly.
He decried the ongoing crisis in Nigeria and condemned terrorist groups and pirates off the Indian Ocean in the Eastern African coast. He said Africa was the continent of the future and more efforts were needed to achieve the desired goals. Meanwhile, new Libyan and Tunisian leaders have vowed to promote democracy and human rights in their countries after the fall of dictatorship in their countries.
Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib called for a regional security conference to tackle the proliferation of weapons by exiled supporters of former leader Muammar Gaddafi. He also urged for the repatriation to Libya of money and other assets that were maintained by Gaddafi and members of his family abroad.
"The money and assets were stolen from the Libyan people," he said. Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki told African leaders that the new government was keen on restoration of democracy, respect of the rule of law and human dignity. He said the revolution in Tunisia was a message to all dictatorial regimes in other parts of the world that their days are numbered. "No force in this world can defeat people's power," he said amid applause.