16 December 2003


NEW YORK, 15 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the Second Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation delivered in Addis Ababa today, 15 December 2003, by Zéphirin Diabré, Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator, United Nations Development Programme:

It gives me great pleasure to greet participants in this Second Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa cooperation, and to celebrate the long and lasting friendship and cooperation between China and Africa.

Interactions between China and Africa go back many centuries, when sailing boats crossed the Indian Ocean carrying goods and fostering cultural exchanges between the two continents.  In the modern era, China was a consistent supporter of the African liberation struggle, and African nations were firm friends of China in the United Nations and other multilateral fora.  Today, as the presence of the Chinese Prime Minister and many African leaders at your conference so clearly demonstrates, the relationship between China and Africa remains strong.

At the Millennium Assembly in 2000, world leaders articulated a new compact of shared responsibilities to accelerate development and to eradicate poverty, enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals.  For their part, through the adoption of the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), African leaders have expressed a renewed resolve to rescue their continent from intermittent conflicts, environmental degradation and repressive governance, steering it towards a new era of peace, democracy and development.

In that endeavour, Africa’s friendship with China remains of vital importance.  In peace and security, China has steadfastly supported Africa within the Security Council, and provided material support for MONUC and now in Liberia.

In 2000, the South Summit called attention to the need for developing countries to share effective development solutions within their borders through South-South cooperation.  The same need was echoed at the Brussels Conference on Least Developed Countries in 2001, and at the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development and the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.

China, through its support to infrastructure development, health, education, agriculture, commercial exchanges and many other areas throughout Africa -- in countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros and Mauritius -- has remained true to its commitment to South-South cooperation.  Much of China’s assistance has been on favourable terms, and has often been found particularly relevant to the needs of the recipients.

By reducing or cancelling 10.5 billion Yuan of debt in favour of 31 African countries, China is also living up to the commitments made at the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development.

If the same spirit is brought to meeting other challenges -- such as ensuring food security and fighting HIV/AIDS -- China can help Africa make real steps towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

But Africa can help China too. The emerging markets of Africa offer huge investment opportunities to Chinese private sector.  The vast and rich natural resources of the African soil are in need of the Chinese technology and know-how, to be exploited and transformed in a sustainable way.  The proposed China-Africa Business Council will serve as an efficient forum for this type of cooperation.

Through the work of its Funds and Programmes, the United Nations will support your renewed commitment to South-South cooperation, and will spare no effort to back any initiative that may contribute decisively to the reduction of poverty.

I wish you a very fruitful conference.

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