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China's vigorous economic rebound drives cooperation with Africa
By CG Lin Jing, published on Cape Times, January 27

In 2020, faced with grave and complex environment both at home and abroad and the huge impact of the epidemic in particular, the Chinese government has taken resolute and swift actions to contain the virus spread, and taken solid measures to stabilize employment, finance, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment and market expectations, and fully safeguard employment, people's livelihood, market entities, food and energy security, stability of industrial and supply chains and operations at grassroots levels.

As a result, China's economy recovered steadily. According to preliminary estimates, China's GDP expanded 2.3 percent year on year in 2020, exceeding the 100-trillion-yuan (15.42 trillion U.S. dollars) threshold to 101.5986 trillion yuan.

Foreign trade achieved positive growth. The total value of imports and exports of goods was 32,155.7 billion yuan, an increase of 1.9 percent. The trade balance stood at 516.8 billion yuan in surplus.

The investment rebounded steadily. For example, the investments in high-tech industry, health industry, education industry grew by 10.6 percent, 29.9 percent and 12.3 percent respectively.

The job market remained stable. The newly increased employed people in urban areas totaled 11.86 million, which notably exceeded the expected goal of 9 million. The surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas was 5.6 percent, below the government's annual target of around 6 percent.

While the people's income grew at the same pace of the economic rebound, the consumer price increased mildly, up by 2.5 percent over last year. The ordinary people are enjoying greater sense of gain and happiness.

What is needed to be highlighted is, at the end of year 2020, a decisive success was made in the eradication of extreme poverty, the 13th Five-Year Plan came to a satisfactory conclusion and the goal of building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects will soon be accomplished.

However, the ever-changing epidemic situation and external environment pose multiple uncertainties and the foundation for economic recovery is yet to be consolidated. China will sustain its epidemic control efforts and take further steps to promote faster economic recovery. High on the agenda is people-centered development and fostering a new "dual circulation" development paradigm, where domestic and foreign markets can boost each other, with the domestic market as the mainstay.

At a time when the rest of the world is still fighting against worsening pandemic and economic recession, China's economic recovery will provide inspiration and confidence for world economic recovery.

The IMF projected China's economy will expand by 7.9 percent in 2021. The latest World Economic Outlook report released by the OECD predicts that China will contribute more than one-third of global economic growth in 2021.

There is no doubt that 2021 is going to be another year of severe challenges. China will steadfastly advocate multilateralism, free trade, and open wider to the outside world for mutually beneficial cooperation with all the countries, and make greater contributions to the stability and prosperity of the world in the post-pandemic era.

COVID-19 pandemic has not held back China's Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership with Africa. From January 4 to 9, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Botswana, Tanzania and Seychelles, in continuation of Chinese foreign ministers' 31-year tradition of choosing Africa for their first overseas visit every year. This unique tradition reflects the special bond between the two sides featuring lasting friendship through weal and woe. It also shows that developing friendly cooperative relations with African countries has always been a basic policy and firm strategic choice in China's foreign affairs.

During the visits, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held meetings and talks with foreign ministers and leaders of the five countries, delivering a series of practical outcomes, and articulating a Seven Point Proposition to Upgrade China-Africa Cooperation in the areas of health, industrial capacity, regional connectivity, agriculture, digital technology, environmental protection, military and security.

While the second wave of epidemic is striking and African countries are making a hard choice between epidemic prevention and economic recovery, the visit reaffirmed that China will actively implement the outcomes of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, continue to provide African countries with much-needed anti-epidemic supplies, send medical experts, establish a cooperation mechanism for Chinese hospitals to pair up with those in Africa, accelerate the building of the Africa CDC headquarters, honor the pledge to turn COVID-19 vaccines a global public good, and work together with other G20 members on debt service suspension for Africa.

On the first day of 2021, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was officially launched, which marks another milestone in the process of African economic integration. China will work together with Africa to focus on infrastructure building, support the development of AfCFTA, improve layout of investment in production capacity and enhance cooperation in scientific innovation to help Africa realize connectivity, industrialization and leapfrog development and foster a China-Africa market.

The next FOCAC meeting will be held in Senegal later in the year. China will communicate and cooperate closely with African side for another successful FOCAC summit. With joint efforts from both sides, China Africa cooperation will continue to produce fruitful outcomes and make still bigger contributions to an even closer China-Africa community with a shared future.

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