CHINA has pledged to support the “just position” of African countries in various international forums saying it was opposed to the “big, strong and rich countries bullying the small, weak and poor” of the world.
In a solidarity speech he delivered at the official opening of the 18th AU Summit here yesterday, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Mr Jia Qinglin, said China did not attach any political strings to its assistance. “We will firmly support the just position of African countries at various international fora. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China will continue to actively participate in affairs concerning peace and security in Africa with a responsible attitude,” Mr Jia said. He said China firmly supports African countries in their efforts to uphold their sovereignty and independence.
Mr Qinglin said throughout the development of the China-Africa relations, his country respected the sovereignty and development path of African countries.
“We have always treated African countries on an equal footing and pursued mutually-beneficial and win-win co-operation with them. We have always regarded assistance and support between China and Africa as mutual and have never attached political strings to our assistance,” he said. He said his country fully respected efforts by African countries to resolve their issues independently. “We will firmly support African countries’ independent choice of development path. We maintain that all countries, big or small, are equal, and we are opposed to the big, strong and rich bullying the small, weak and poor.”
He said China would develop by maintaining world peace.
“We will continue to pursue an independent foreign policy of peace, respect the right of the people of all countries to independently choose their social systems and development paths and refrain from imposing our will on others. “While seeking our own development, we will strive for the common development of all countries through mutually beneficial cooperation,” he said.
Earlier on outgoing chairperson of the African Union and Equatorial Guinea President, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, said Africa was being manipulated by outside powers that were now sponsoring violence to impose their preferred leaders. Mr Nguema said the economic crisis in the world was creating instability in Africa.
President Mugabe attended the official opening of the summit together with several other African leaders. Before the official opening, President Mugabe had joined his counterparts in planting trees around the new AU complex that was built by the Chinese Government.
“Africa is being manipulated by outside powers . . . the economic crisis is creating instability in Africa and other parts of the world,” said Mr Nguema in his speech before he handed over the chairmanship of the AU to the President of Benin Mr Boni Yayi.
Mr Nguema, who was speaking soon after the speech by the Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Raheem al-Keeb, castigated the use of violence by some leaders in the continent to get into power. He said humanitarian assistance to Africa should not lead to the destruction of infrastructure, economies, social services and deaths.
The speech by Mr Nguema seemed to be an attack on the utterances by the Libyan PM who had earlier on attacked the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and thanked African countries that voted for the wanton bombing of Libya by Nato under the guise of protecting civilians.
UN secretary-general, Mr Ban Ki Moon, also addressed the summit and described the year 2011 as a “year of high drama” in Africa. He acknowledged that there were differences in resolving the political situation in Libya and Ivory Coast. Mr Ban, however, struck a wrong chord when he urged African countries to respect gay rights when the majority of countries in the continent are against gays. The leaders rebuked him for the remarks.
The new AU chairperson Mr Yoyi, in his acceptance speech said “Africa is the continent of the future” adding that “international prosperity depends on Africa.”
After the official opening, the leaders had a group photo session and later went into a closed session where issues concerning Libya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan were discussed.
The summit continues today with the election of the chairperson of the African Union Commission set to take centre stage as current chairperson Mr Jean Ping battles for the position with South African Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.