FOCAC 2018 Beijing Summit comes at an opportune time: Seychelles President Faure
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Seychelles President Danny Faure

“The 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is taking place at an opportune time whereby we find ourselves enjoying the best levels that China-Africa relations have ever reached,” said Seychelles President Danny Faure in a written interview with People’s Daily, in the lead up to the summit. The president expects that new measures, to be adopted in the Action Plan 2019 – 2021, will create new catalysts sure to boost cooperation, create new opportunities and more win-win results for all FOCAC participating parties.

An edited script of the interview follows below.

People’s Daily (PD): The upcoming 2018 Beijing Summit is the second FOCAC summit to be hosted in Beijing. How significant do you think this Summit will be?

President Faure: The FOCAC Beijing Summit is very important to the current and future infrastructure development, financial, economic and trade cooperation between African countries and China. It will create new catalysts that will boost cooperation, create new opportunities and more win-win outcomes for all FOCAC participating parties.

PD: China and Africa share a long history of friendship, and are both looking at new development opportunities. How do you evaluate the current China-Africa cooperation?

President Faure: In order to assess the China-Africa cooperation we have to look back at the long standing and historical ties that have helped us to create an excellent bond of friendship based on mutual trust and respect. African countries and China have always stood by each other in times of need and I am confident that we shall do the same in the future. This is because we share the same goals, understanding and a close affinity to support and create more opportunities for the benefit of our peoples.

PD: It is understood that new measures will be introduced to promote China-Africa cooperation during the Beijing Summit. What are your expectations for this Summit?

President Faure: My expectations for this Summit are very promising because African countries and China understand the needs of each other and what is required for us to achieve the goals that we want to attain as demonstrated in the Action Plan 2019 – 2021. The new measures to be adopted are based on past experiences and evaluations of past challenges faced under previous Action Plans. We now have a much better understanding of where we want to go from here. We are confident that through the Action Plan 2019-2021 we will be successful at achieving all of our goals.

From a Seychelles perspective, we are very pleased that the needs of Small Island Developing States have been included in the new Action Plan 2019 – 2021. Tourism, climate change related issues, ocean economy, including the promotion of the Blue Economy, and the proposed establishment of a China – Africa Cooperation Centre for Ocean Science and Blue Economy are all a reflection of our interests.

PD: Chinese President Xi Jinping firmly believes that ‘China and Africa have always been a community of shared destiny’. What is your interpretation? Do you agree that FOCAC Beijing Summit will help promote a closer community of common destiny between China and Africa?

President Faure: I agree with President Xi Jinping. As I have mentioned earlier, African countries and China enjoy long standing and historical ties. These have laid strong foundations for our two peoples to build friendly relations and create joint benefits that keep elevating our cooperation to new heights. Since its inception, the FOCAC Summits have always strengthened our relations and created more avenues of cooperation for us to explore, in order to build more shared collaboration and development.

Based on this, the 2018 Beijing FOCAC Summit is taking place at an opportune time whereby we find ourselves enjoying the best levels that our relations have ever reached. This follows all the past hard work and commitments that our peoples have devoted to building this strong and dynamic China-Africa relationship. This is why African countries and China have always been a community of a shared destiny and also why the 2018 Beijing FOCAC Summit will take us one step closer towards a community of common destiny between Africa and China.

PD: Many African countries participate in the One Belt and One Road (OBOR) Initiative. How do you view this initiative regarding development and global governances?

President Faure: The OBOR initiative is an excellent initiative by President Xi Jinping because it sets out many important goals that seek to boost global trade, connectivity and infrastructure development. The economies of African countries are growing at a very fast pace and its trade capabilities are strengthening day by day. This has created a very important market for global partners that seek to trade with African countries. But in order to succeed, African countries, together with other countries worldwide, require the right infrastructure development that will make connectivity and trade easier to take place. The OBOR initiative will no doubt make this a reality and contribute a large number of positive impacts for international trade, connectivity and infrastructure development.

So the opportunity to access financing for infrastructure development that will facilitate trade is being offered by China. However, it is up to the individual state to decide whether to access these funds based on its economic situation and repayment capacity.

PD: In 2013, President Xi Jinping visited Africa and stressed that China will adhere to the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith, while striking the right balance between upholding principles and pursuing benefits in its Africa policy. How do you see those two principles?

President Faure: These two principles are vital to the modernisation and development strategies of Africa as the continent aims to achieve the goals of the African Union Agenda 2063. It is very important for us to be pragmatic about our cooperation and this is clearly demonstrated in these two principles. China has always understood that having a strong, practical and balanced African policy will create more opportunities and enhance our people to people relations. On the African side we have always appreciated this.

These principles are of course not necessarily new because they are principles that China has been extending to African countries for a long period of time. But to have President Xi Jinping address it with a more pragmatic approach shows that China is being more understanding of the day-to-day development of Africa. Moreover, these two principles are an extension of the thriving relationship between Africa and China based on mutual trust and respect.

PD: There are some untruthful claims in the western media about China-Africa cooperation. What is your opinion?

President Faure: The cooperation between African countries and China is a story of close friends that seek the best for each other by peacefully and constructively supporting each other’s core interests; that seek to build more cooperation and develop stronger people to people ties, in order to create more win-win outcomes. Misrepresenting what Africa–China relations stand for is wrong.

PD: How do you evaluate China’s economic development and governing experiences? What role, in your opinion, is China playing today on the world stage?

President Faure: China’s economic development has been an incredible process. It reflects the hard work of the people of China to transform the country into a global economic power. China is now the world’s second largest economy and is playing multiple positive roles at various international fora and international organizations.

China is a member of the United Nations Security Council and holds very high positions in other international fora and organizations as well as having strong influence in such organizations. Because of this, China stands in a much better position to support global concerns such as climate change, and to encourage others to avoid adopting negative forms of international governance that seek to destroy or harm the international rules system.