Chinese President Xi Jinping and African leaders rounded off a landmark summit Saturday with a unanimous consensus to upgrade China-Africa relations backed by a roadmap for further boosting mutually beneficial cooperation and common development.[Special coverage]
The leaders' meeting, officials and observers from across the region say, has not only ushered the world's second-largest country and "most promising continent" into a new era of common development, but once again testified to China's brotherly friendship and genuine partnership with Africa.
ONE UPGRADE, FIVE PILLARS, TEN PLANS
In his concluding remarks at the summit, the second of the 15-year-old Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Xi announced that he and the dozens of participating African leaders reached a unanimous agreement to lift the China-Africa relationship to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.
The upgrade, proposed by Xi on Friday in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony, came nine years after China and African countries decided at the first FOCAC summit in Beijing to establish a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchange.
In support of the historic progress, African leaders endorsed Xi's appeal to strengthen the five "major pillars" of political equality and mutual trust, win-win economic cooperation, mutually enriching cultural exchanges, mutual assistance in security, and solidarity and coordination in international affairs.
To realize the upgrade, the two sides also agreed to carry out 10 major cooperation plans in the next three years in the areas of industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure construction, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security.
The programs, he pointed out when proposing them on Friday, will focus on helping African countries break the three development bottlenecks of backward infrastructure, talent shortage and inadequate fund, accelerate industrialization and agricultural modernization, and realize independent and sustainable development.
As regards the lack of skilled personnel, Xi announced that China will establish a number of regional vocational education centers and several capacity-building colleges for Africa, train 200,000 technicians for African countries, and provide the continent with 40,000 training opportunities in China.
Meanwhile, China will offer African students 2,000 education opportunities with degrees or diplomas and 30,000 government scholarships, he said, adding that each year his country will also invite 200 African scholars to visit China and 500 African youths to study in China each year and train 1,000 media professionals from Africa.
Among many other measures, China will also cancel outstanding debts in the form of bilateral governmental zero-interest loans borrowed by the relevant least developed African countries that mature at the end of 2015, and launch 200 "Happy Life" projects and special programs focusing on women and children, according to the president.