Keynote Speech by Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong at the Dialogue on the Implementation of China-Africa Peace and Security Initiative
Addis Ababa, 6 February 2019
Your Excellency Mrs. Minata Samate Cessouma, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs,
Your Excellency Mr. Mame Baba Cissé, Representative of the Foreign Minister of Senegal and Secretary General of the Senegalese Foreign Ministry,
Honorable Ministers and Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to join you in this beautiful city of Addis Ababa for the Dialogue on the Implementation of China-Africa Peace and Security Initiative. The Dialogue is a pioneering step in strengthening peace and security cooperation between China and Africa and a concrete move to deliver the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit. Your presence today speaks volumes about the high importance you attach to our cooperation and is a manifestation of your personal commitment and strong support. I also want to take the opportunity to express our sincere thanks to Senegal, the FOCAC co-Chair, and the AU Commission for the great efforts they have put into the preparations of this Dialogue.
At the successful FOCAC Beijing Summit last September, China and Africa agreed to jointly build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future. At the Summit, President Xi Jinping announced a host of new measures to strengthen China-Africa peace and security cooperation and reached important consensus with African leaders on launching the peace and security initiative. This is the first year for implementing the Beijing Summit outcomes. Last month, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited several African countries and the AU Headquarters, during which he reached important common understanding with African leaders on furthering China-Africa cooperation, especially in the field of peace and security. It is the mission of our Dialogue today to create synergy in thinking and action between the two sides, put forward suggestions on how to implement the peace and security initiative and the important consensus reached by our leaders, and build momentum for China-Africa peace and security cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Being the continent with the largest number of developing countries, Africa’s peace and stability bears on the security and development of the whole world. Although the situation has been improving in recent years, risks and challenges facing Africa’s peace and security cannot be overlooked. First, African countries are navigating uncharted waters in exploring their own development paths. Some of them are confronted with political and social transitions and shifting gears of growth, which has led to an increase in uncertainty and instability. Second, traditional security threats are entwined with non-traditional ones. Terrorism and other security challenges remain grim in regions such as the Sahel. Third, institution-building of the regional collective security mechanism has been a tortuous process, and the work of the AU and Africa’s subregional organizations faces constraints such as insufficient funding. Fourth, the inter-connected nature of Africa’s hotspot issues often has spill-over effects and complicates the overall peace and security situation on this continent.
Over the years, China has fulfilled its responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Guided by the principles enunciated by President Xi Jinping for China-Africa relations, namely, sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and pursuing the greater good and shared interests, China has played a positive role in Africa’s peace and security affairs. Anything that is conducive to Africa’s peace and stability would enjoy China’s support, and anything that undermines Africa’s peace and stability would meet China’s opposition. Throughout the process, China has been committed to four principles: playing a fair, impartial and constructive role, helping Africa build up its own peacekeeping capacity, addressing the root causes as well as the symptoms, and pursuing cooperation for win-win results.
Action speaks louder than words. China has been the largest contributor of UN peacekeepers among the five permanent members of the Security Council and the second largest contributor of UN peacekeeping funding. Nearly 2,100, or more than 80% of our peacekeepers are stationed in Africa, and 75% of China’s peacekeeping financial contributions are used in Africa. Chinese naval vessels have been on escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off the Somali coast since 2009, providing protection to 7,000 Chinese and foreign vessels in nearly 2,000 groups. When attending the summits commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UN in September 2015, President Xi Jinping announced China’s decision to establish a 10-year, US$1-billion China-UN peace and development fund. At China’s proposal, the fund has made peace and development initiatives of African countries its priority. Among the 56 projects approved so far by the fund, African countries have been the major beneficiaries, with projects ranging from peacekeeping, counter-terrorism capacity-building, mediation, to sustainable development, migration and refugee affairs.
China is actively involved in mediating hotspot issues in Africa, and supports African people in resolving African issues in the African way. China has been enhancing dialogue and coordination with African countries in the UN Security Council, and during its rotating presidency in recent years, China has sponsored open debates on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, on “Enhancing Africa Capacities in the Areas of Peace and Security”, and on “Strengthening Peacekeeping Operations in Africa”. China has provided through both bilateral and multilateral channels military assistance and personnel training for the AU and African countries to support their capacity-building on peace and security.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China and Africa enjoy ever greater common language, common aspirations and common interests as new opportunities and challenges emerge under new circumstances. African countries welcome China’s deeper involvement in their peace and security issues, and sincerely hope that China would provide more public goods in this area. There are new opportunities for us to step up cooperation on peace and security, which is expected to become an important driver for China-Africa relations.
We need to explore new dimensions for dialogue on peace and security policy. To build a community through common endeavors to foster security, China and Africa need to enhance strategic security communication and policy dialogue. We need to take real actions to build a community with a shared future, pursue common security, and ensure that the voice and will of Africa are truly respected. This Dialogue is an opportunity for us to explore new ways to advance dialogue on peace and security. China will keep the momentum of mutual visits between defense and military leaders of our two sides, and take peace and security issues as an important agenda in political and diplomatic dialogues and an important part in the China-AU Strategic Dialogue. China will establish a China-Africa peace and security forum, and invite Chinese and African officials and scholars on peace and security to participate. This will facilitate the sharing of ideas on peace and security and experience on defense and counter-terrorism.
We need to take new actions to build capacity on peace and security. China takes Africa’s concerns seriously, and focuses on its priority and most urgent needs in peacekeeping capacity building. China will continue to support and cooperate with Africa’s efforts in securing financial support from the UN on AU peacekeeping operations. We could demonstrate our common position on such financing and win understanding and support of the international community through thematic consultation or formulating common position papers. China will continue to deliver on its US$100 million military aid to the AU and the additional US$80 million military aid in support of the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis. China and the AU have agreed to allocate funds from China’s remaining military aid to the AU for counter-terrorism operations and building joint forces in the Sahel region, and China and Africa will discuss and implement this agreement through bilateral and multilateral channels.
We need to explore new approaches to facilitate the resolution of hotspot issues. China will continue to make good use of its friendly political relations with Africa to increase communication and mediation, promote dialogue and consultation, and facilitate progress in the political resolution of hotspot issues. Going forward, a more integrated, comprehensive and sustainable approach will be adopted whereby both traditional security issues and non-traditional security threats will be actively addressed, both bilateral channels and multilateral cooperation will be employed and both mediation of conflicts and preventive diplomacy will be strengthened. Ambassador Xia Huang was recently appointed by Secretary-General António Guterres as his Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, the first Chinese to take up the role as UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for hotspot issues. China hopes and trusts that Ambassador Xia Huang will make positive contributions to maintaining peace and stability in the Great Lakes region.
We need to implement the new measures of the peace and security initiative. China is formulating a plan for the utilization of the China-Africa Peace and Security Fund. As a new package arrangement on peace and security, the Fund provides military and economic assistance through bilateral and multilateral channels in a whole range of areas, including military, counter-terrorism, intelligence, maintenance of law and order and law enforcement and in multiple forms such as personnel training, material assistance, and infrastructure projects. With a more diverse source of capital and a wider coverage, the Fund features more targeted programs and more streamlined procedures as compared with traditional special funds. China stands ready to work more closely with Africa to design and implement country-specific programs of the peace and security initiative in light of China’s capabilities and Africa’s needs. We look forward to applications from African countries and the AU Commission.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China-Africa relations now stand at a new starting point. No matter how the regional and international landscape evolves, or whatever noises individual countries may make, China’s resolve to follow through on the new peace and security cooperation measures announced by President Xi Jinping at the FOCAC Beijing Summit and relevant consensus reached by Chinese and African leaders remains unchanged. China’s efforts to safeguard peace and stability in Africa remain unchanged. And China’s actions to participate in the peace and security affairs in Africa remain unchanged. I am confident that, with our concerted efforts, China-Africa relations will enjoy greater development, and China-Africa peace and security cooperation will score fresh progress and scale new heights. Thank you once again for being here today. Let’s work together to ensure the success of our Dialogue.