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Chinese Ambassador: No Empty Talks But Actions for China-South Africa and China-Africa cooperation
--Exclusive Interview with the Star of the Independent Media by H.E. Ambassador Lin Songtian

1. Q: The United States has again and again escalated pressure on Huawei and even forced other countries and some international organizations to join its efforts to contain Huawei by freezing critical components supplies and cooperation with Huawei. How do you evaluate the impact of those actions on Huawei, China and Africa respectively? What is your comment on this issue?

A: It is known that now the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR) has come to us and brings both great opportunities and challenges to the human society. Whoever grasps the new opportunities of the FIR can improve its production efficiency, innovate development model, and keep pace with times for faster and better development. Whoever misses the opportunities will be marginalized dramatically.

Huawei is a leading company in 5G technology and the largest supplier of internet equipment in the world. It is a network infrastructure builder rather than operator. For any country who wants to embrace the FIR for innovative development, they truly need Huawei. In the meantime, the components of Huawei's cellphone and telecommunication facilities are purchased from global suppliers, which benefits the European countries, the United States and other developed countries.

Huawei's innovation patent belongs to China, but its fruits are shared with the whole world and benefit the humankind. In order to maintain its hegemony in science and technology, the US used the so-called national security as an excuse and mobilized national strength to ban a private company of China such as Huawei, by kidnapping its senior executive, blacklisting the company, and cutting off its supply chain of components. The US is deliberately cutting off the global chains of production, supply and value.

Such rare bullying acts done by the US are indeed harming others without benefiting itself. It severely damages the outcome of global technological innovations and gravely hinders the process of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and will inevitably be rejected by China and other countries in the World.

In the meantime, China is forced to find a way-out to develop a new production, supply and value chain that will be independent from the US. In this sense, the US has isolated its own high-tech products from entering China's huge market, and it is the American people who eventually have to pay for the price.

The American government forced Europe, Japan, Australia and other allies to stop their cooperation with Huawei. But without any alternative facilities, the US actually deprives its allies of the development rights to embrace and benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We believe that the international communities have the wisdom to see through the plots of the America and make their right choices.

The application of 5G telecommunication technology has now been available in 40 major cities in China and is expected to cover the whole country before the end of 2020. The US can ban Huawei, but cannot stop China from grasping the great opportunity brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and achieving better and faster development.

African countries need network infrastructure builders like Huawei to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 70% of the backbone networking infrastructure in Africa has been built by Huawei. With another Chinese telecom company ZTE counted, almost 80% of the backbone networking infrastructure in Africa is financed and built by Chinese companies. China has become the major contributor to the development of Africa's information and telecommunication (ICT) industry. It is the local people and European, American companies in Africa that benefit from the networking infrastructure financed and built by China.

It is not wise for the US to ban Huawei and force its allies to stop cooperation with Huawei. It can neither stop China and African countries from building networking infrastructure, nor deprive Chinese and African people and the peoples all over the world of the development rights to embrace and benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The time has changed! So does the world. We sincerely hope that the US can abandon the "winner takes all" law of jungle and zero-sum mentality of the Cold War, and learn to live in harmony with other countries for mutual respect, fair competition and win-win results.

2. Q: On June 24th and 25th, the coordinators' meeting on the implementation of the FOCAC Beijing Summit outcomes will be held in Beijing. What do you expect of this meeting?

A: There is no lack of mechanisms, let alone meetings, in international cooperation with Africa. What is needed is concrete actions to honor commitment to Africa.

The fundamental feature of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is that China always honors its promise and works very hard to ensure efficient delivery for the win-win outcomes. Among the international meetings on cooperation with Africa, up to today, only China established the follow-up mechanism of FOCAC and hold the coordinators' meeting between China and African countries for timely and effective implementation of the FOCAC outcomes to the benefit of our two peoples.

Since its establishment 19 years ago, FOCAC has always been action and results-oriented and has become an important platform for China and Africa to synergize their development strategies and seek win-win cooperation for common development, driving and leading international cooperation with Africa. China never makes empty promises to Africa, never imposes its will on Africa, never interferes in the internal affairs of African countries, and never seeks its own political interests in conducting mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation with Africa.

Last year, the FOCAC Beijing Summit was successfully held in China where H.E. President Xi Jinping announced Eight Major Initiative on China-Africa cooperation and financial support of US$60 billion with the aim to support African industrialization and agricultural modernization. It is widely welcomed by African countries and acclaimed by the international communities.

In just a few days, the coordinators' meeting on the implementation of the FOCAC Beijing Summit outcomes will be held in Beijing. Around 60 ministerial officials, including Minister Pandor and other 23 African foreign ministers, will attend the meeting to steer the high-quality and sustainable development of China-Africa Cooperation. In the meantime, in order to jointly meet the new global challenges brought by the increasingly uncertain and unstable international political, economic and financial situation, China and Africa will also show the international community our strong and firm commitment to solidarity and cooperation, to upholding multilateralism and building a stronger community of a shared future between China and Africa.

I would also like to share with you another good news that besides the annually held China International Import Expo in Shanghai, on 26 June, the first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo will be held in Hunan Province of China. It is a new platform built by the Chinese government to promote mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation under the framework of FOCAC. It is also our major initiative and concrete action to open up China's market to African countries including South Africa, so as to support Africa in achieving self-sustainable development. All the 54 African members of FOCAC will attend the Expo and the participants are estimated to exceed 10000.

We are happy to see that boosted by FOCAC and the joint building of the BRI, Africa, the youngest continent, has been rising fast as a whole. In 2018, 16 African countries achieved a more than 5% of GDP growth rate. Among them, the GDP growth rate of some East African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda exceeded 6%. China has remained Africa's largest trading partner for ten consecutive years. Last year, China-Africa two-way trade exceeded US$ 200 billion, a year-on-year increase of over 20%. Chinese investment in Africa has exceeded US$ 110 billion in accumulative terms.

It is our hope and belief that the coordinators' meeting will be productive and fruitful and inject new impetus to the development of Africa and China-Africa Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership.

3. Q: It is one of the important outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit for China and Africa to jointly build the BRI. How is it making progress? South Africa was the first African country to sign MOU on the BRI Cooperation with China. What is the outlook for China-South Africa cooperation within the framework of the BRI?

A: I am proud to say that China and Africa have made major progress in jointly building the BRI. Up to now, 39 African countries and the African Union have signed documents on the BRI cooperation with China.

As the Africa Development Bank predicts, Africa needs US$130-170 billion for infrastructure building every year, and there is a huge funding gap. The BRI is focusing on infrastructure development for better connectivity within the countries and among regions, so as to realize interconnected, inclusive, sustainable and common development.

Africa is the priority direction of the BRI implementation. China stands ready to actively support Africa's efforts in the construction of large infrastructure projects such as railway, highway, ports, airports, power generation and transmission grids, telecommunication, etc, so as to breakthrough the three bottlenecks of development for Africa, i.e. inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel and short of financial resources.

Up to now, Chinese investment and financial support in Africa have exceeded US$ 110 billion in accumulative terms. So far, upholding the idea of intensive development, China has financed and built more than 6000 km of railway, over 10000 km of roads, over 80 power plants, more than 200 schools, over 60 airports, ports, and bridges, as well as tens of industrial parks and special economic zones. It has strongly facilitated Africa's industrialization, urbanization and self-sustainable development.

Ethiopia and Kenya have become the role models for synergizing the BRI with Africa's development. China's investment and financing in Ethiopia has exceeded 20 billion US dollars, which has helped Ethiopia build the Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway and the modern port of Djibouti, as well as several industrial parks and such connectivity infrastructures as power grids, communications and roads, the industrial belt along the railway is almost taking shape, which makes Ethiopia become the fastest growing country in the world from the once poorest country. Over the past 10 years, Ethiopia has achieved an average double-digit growth rate, which reached as high as 10.7% in 2018.

China has also financed and built the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway in Kenya, which created 46 thousand jobs for local people, has reduced the logistics cost as high as 40% and promoted investment and tourism in Kenya. Now the railway contributes 1.5% of Kenya's GDP annual growth.

I am deeply proud of the fruitful China-Africa cooperation. Upon the time when setting feet on the African continent, the Americans and the west are enjoying such infrastructure as airports, highways, power, stadiums, and the AU headquarter financed and built by China.

It is reported that only 1.7% of Africa's infrastructure construction was financed and built by the US, the only super power in the world. Now when the African government and people open their eyes and walk out of homes, they are very easy to see who are the true and reliable partner of Africa to alleviate poverty and realize sustainable development. The US is obviously not entitled on this continent to point its fingers at China or China-Africa cooperation. Any attempt to smear or undermine China-Africa cooperation is absolutely futile and unwelcome.

South Africa is among the first African countries to sign the MOU with China on inter-governmental BRI cooperation and it is the country that President Xi paid three state visits to. Now important progress has been made in the building of the BRI by China and South Africa. Our two countries enjoy unprecedented high-level political mutual trust. Their two-way trade accounted for nearly 1/4 of China's total trade with Africa. Chinese investment and financing in South Africa exceeded US$ 25 billion. All the major Chinese financial institutions have set up branches in Johannesburg. China and South Africa have agreed on reciprocal arrangements of international settlement in local currency and Chinese RMB has become the reserve currency of South Africa. China-South Africa people-to-people exchanges in science and technology, health, youth, women, tourism, media and think tanks have flourished and set up a model for South-South cooperation.

There is not only unique political advantage and popular support, but also unique natural conditions and strong complementarity for China and South Africa to jointly build the BRI for common development. China stands ready to support the efforts of South Africa to become a pilot country in connecting the BRI with the development of Africa, and support South Africa to strengthen its infrastructure development and build industrial belts from Durban to Johannesburg, and from Richards Bay to Limpopo, so as to facilitate its national development and renewal.

4. Q: President Donald Trump of the US recently claimed that China's economy is suffering a lot, and the US economy has been fantastic. The international community worries that the trade war between China and US will slow down China's economic growth and drag down the world economy and is calling for the early end of the trade war. What is your comment?

A: Unfortunately, there is only one country and only one person in the world who can say whatever he likes or does not like, regardless of facts and credibility. In this regard, we do not take seriously what he says, but seek the truth from the facts.

China is indeed the victim of the so-called "trade war" launched by the United States, which led to a dramatic decrease in China's imports from the US, especially agricultural products. China's GDP growth rate in the first quarter of this year has dropped to 6.4% from 6.6% last year, but China's total GDP is about 3 times that of Japan, and 5 times that of India. And the increment created by 6.4% GDP growth in the first quarter of this year is equivalent to the China's annual GDP in 2005, and is US$500 billion more than India's total GDP in 2018.

China has surely become one of the main engines driving global economic growth. Since 2008, China's annual contribution to world economic growth exceeds 30%, more than the contribution of all developed countries combined. In the first five months of this year, China's foreign trade has registered a year-on-year increase of 4.1%, with exports increasing by 6.1% and imports declined to 1.8%. A shrinking imports and exports of China will undoubtedly affect the global economy.

Hopefully, according to a UN report, although global flow of FDI fell by 13% and FDI inflows to the US declined by 9% last year, the FDI inflows to China grew by 4% to about US$139 billion. China still remains the world's second largest FDI recipient.

In recent years, China is committed to innovation-driven and high-quality development, and has achieved great success in economic transformation. Consumption in China has become the major driving force of economic growth, contributing over 76% to China's GDP in 2018.

Take one example, according to statistics, during the 4-day International Workers' Day Holiday in 2019, China received over 195 million domestic tourists, a 13.7% increase compared with last year, and gained R240 billion of tourism revenue, increasing by 16.1%.

China has a vast consumer market of 1.4 billion population, including over 400 million mid-income population, a large territory, and uneven development between rural and urban areas and among different regions. Those are the potential areas of economic growth in China. Therefore, the international community does not have to worry, as China will maintain a medium-to-high growth rate in the future, and make its due contribution to world economic growth.

5. Q: It is noted that there are protest rallies in Hong Kong SAR these days. The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and some other countries expressed their concerns on the Hong Kong SAR government's amendment to the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Bill 2019. What's your comment?

A: Hong Kong is China's Special Administrative Region and its affairs are purely China's internal affairs that allow no interference from any other country. Since the return of Hong Kong, the policy of "One country, Two systems" and "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy" has been faithfully implemented. The rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents have been fully guaranteed according to law. The facts are there for all to see. This is why the protest rallies can happen again and again in HK.

Hong Kong's prosperity and stability serve the common interests of the world. A chaotic Hong Kong runs counter to interests of all the parties concerned. We urge certain people in the US and Europe to respect basic facts, discard arrogance and prejudice, stop playing dirty tricks that meddle in Hong Kong affairs, give up delusions to instigate chaos in the HK, stop interfering in China's internal affairs, and work to enhance mutual trust and cooperation instead.

Finally, I would like to stress that China's determination to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests is firm and solid. We are not afraid of any threat or intimidation. Any plots aimed at instigating chaos in Hong Kong to undermine its prosperity and stability are bound to fail, because such attempts go against people's aspiration and will never succeed.

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