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Statement by Ambassador Shen Guofang at the 55th GA Session on Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa

2000-10-15 00:00

Mr. President,

The Chinese Delegation thanks the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on the Causes of Conflict and Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa for its report, which has offered a systematic analysis of the implementation of the recommendations in the Secretary-General's report in this regard as well as those in the agreed conclusions on African development adopted at the ECOSOC Substantive session of 1999, and the obstacles for such implementation as well. It also puts forward recommendations for further action in this regard. We appreciate the outstanding jobs done by Mr. Kishore Mahbubani, Ambassador of Singapore and Mr. Inocencio Arias, Ambassador of Spain in their capacity as the two Vice-Chairmen of the Working Group. In the United Nations Millennium Declaration, the heads of state or government have expressed their resolve to "support the consolidation of democracy in Africa and assist Africans in their struggle for lasting peace, poverty eradication and sustainable development, thereby bringing Africa into the mainstream of the world economy". This marks the latest commitment made by the international community for Africa and one of vital importance.

Thanks to the efforts of the African countries and the support by the international community, African economy has looked up in recent years. However, according to statistics, the general situation in Africa is still worrisome and the gap between its development level and that of the world as a whole continues to widen. The vulnerable and small economies in Africa and the least developed countries in particular have found themselves in an even less favorable situation. Currently, 52% of the African population still live on less than USD $1 a day. The absolute majority of the 48 least developed countries of the world, the absolute majority of the world's refugees, and 90% of the world's children who have become orphans because their parents have died of HIV/AIDS are in Africa. Given the opportunities and potentials brought about by globalization, it is a shame to see that the vast number of African countries have been excluded from globalization, marginalized, or even forced to bear the negative impact of the process, something that no one can accept with a peace of mind.

Mr. President,

On the one hand, African countries should bear the responsibility for their own prosperity, stability and development. On the other, it is also a common task of the international community. The peace- and development-related problems in Africa have been inherited from the past, long-existing and deep-rooted. They have complex social, economic and other kinds of causes and need to be addressed by African countries and the international community with a comprehensive and integrated approach. The overriding priority at present is to see to it that the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s, those recommendations of the Secretary-General on the promotion of endurable peace and sustainable development in Africa as well as relevant commitments in the UN Millennium Declaration will be translated in more effective actions.

According to the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group, African countries and the international community have already taken many steps to implement the Secretary-General's recommendations, some of which have yielded positive results. However, just as the report has pointed out, there are still many obstacles in the implementation process. The recommendations put forward in the report for overcoming those obstacles and for taking further actions have already been largely accepted by African countries. It is our hope that when taking further actions, country-specific programs should be made on the basis of the specific conditions of countries concerned. The responsibilities of a country concerned and those of the international community should also be specified for better fulfillment. Hereby, I wish to highlight the following points pertaining to international actions in this regard.

First, the international community should pay attention to special needs of Africa and assist African countries to integrate into the world economy and achieve economic growth and sustainable development. In this era of great changes, the institutional capacities of African countries are still too weak for them to take part in global competition. For this reason, in discussions concerning the international economic, financial and trade policies, it is extremely important to ensure that we have the participation of the African countries and their interests should be well protected. At the same time, it is necessary to strengthen the development of human resources and capacity building in other fields.

Second, there should be a stronger flow of funds to Africa. At the present stage, Africa still has a lot of practical difficulties in absorbing private investments and ODA continues to play a dominant role there. Therefore, there is an enormous need for ODA to be pushed up as soon as possible to the level of 0.7% of the GNP of developed countries as promised. At the same time, all governments and international organizations should look for feasible methods to encourage foreign direct investment in Africa. We also hope to see tangible results in this regard at the high-level international inter-governmental event on financing for development to be held next year.

Third, steps should be taken to increase market access for African countries. Especially, developed countries should eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers against superior products from Africa, so as to help the latter to enhance development through trade.

Fourth, external debts of African countries should be further reduced and cancelled. At present, relevant proposals on debt relief have failed to achieve satisfactory results and given rise to worries of many African countries. We appeal to relevant international financial institutions and major creditor countries to listen to the voice of African countries and take bigger steps forward in this regard.

Fifth, real actions should be taken to promote transfers of technology, including efforts to create digital opportunities for African countries. Especially, we should give priority to helping African countries to build their infrastructures and develop human resources so as to support them to use the information technology to achieve a leap-forward growth.

Sixth, the unchecked spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria, which is a great drain on human and economic resources, has become a serious economic and social problem in African countries as well as a big challenge to their security. We welcome the efforts made by African countries and the international community to fight against these diseases. We are also supportive to the proposed convocation of a special session of the General Assembly on the issue of HIV/AIDS, and we hope the special session will mobilize the whole society and provide effective policies and measures with the view to winning the war against HIV/AIDS.

Finally, we endorse the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Working Group's report that the great number of proposals on the issue of Africa must be sorted out and narrowed down to effective and well-coordinated ones, so as to make a fuller use of precious resources, improve efficiency and create maximum good conditions for African development. We are of the view that the mandate of the Ad Hoc Working Group should be extended, in order to continue to promote the implementation of those recommendations in the Secretary-General's report.

Mr. President,

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Ministerial Conference Beijing 2000 was successfully convened from 10 to 12 October. About 80 ministers from 45 African countries and representatives of about 20 regional organizations attended this event. The twin themes of the conference were: first, how to push ahead with the establishment of a fair and just new international political and economic order in the 21st century so as to safeguard the common interests of developing countries and second, how to promote China-Africa cooperation, under new circumstances, in substantive fields such as trade and economy.

Participants had an extensive exchange of views in these regards. The conference adopted the Beijing Declaration of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the Program for China-Africa Cooperation in Economic and Social Development. The former has reflected the common ground between China and Africa on major international issues while the latter has provided highly detailed and feasible programs for China-Africa cooperation in all fields.

At the forum, China made four commitments concerning its continued support to the economic and social development of African countries. First, China undertakes to provide, within its capacity and within the framework of South-South Cooperation, all forms of assistance and aid to African countries in accordance with specific economic conditions of the latter. China's assistance and aid to Africa do not have any political conditions attached and are not aimed at seeking any political privileges. Also, such assistance and aid will grow in scale and improve in mechanism along with China's economy and overall national strength so as to better satisfy the needs of African countries. Second, the Chinese side undertakes to reduce or cancel debts amounting to 10 billion RMB yuan owed by the heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries in Africa in the coming two years. Third, the Chinese side will set aside special funds to support and encourage investment by Chinese enterprises in African countries. At the same time, China will help expand export from African countries to China based on the principle of giving preference to African products when other things being equal. Fourth, China will establish an African Human Resources Development Fund and expand China-Africa cooperation in a wider range of fields, especially in the fields of human resources development, science and technology as well as education. The fund will gradually grow in scale as a means to help African countries to train more professional talents of all kinds.

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation has been a collective dialogue between the two sides conducted at the turn of the century as well as a successful and important exploration for their common development. It also marks China's new contribution to the promotion of the South-South Cooperation. We hope that the Forum will make greater contributions to peace and development on that continent.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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