(Changsha, Hunan, November 2, 2018)
Distinguished Minister Ogbeh (Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Nigeria),
Distinguished Executive Director Mr Beasley (Executive Director of World Food Program),
Distinguished President Houngbo (President of International Fund for Agriculture Development),
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure of mine to join the distinguished forum hosted in Hunan province, “a land of fish and rice” as we know it to be in China. My topic today is “Agenda 2030: New Opportunities in South-South Cooperation in Agriculture” and I hope we can have more discussions in this regard. First of all, please allow me, on behalf of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), to extend our sincere gratitude to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, and the People’s Government of Hunan Province for their work in preparing for such a great event.
As the Chinese saying goes “food is the basis for livelihood, agriculture lays the foundation”, the Chinese government has always prioritized agriculture, rural areas, and farmers as fundamental issues concerning national economy and people’s livelihoods, and implemented a rural revitalization strategy. While pursuing sustainable development of agriculture domestically, China has been enhancing cooperation with other developing countries. It is a priority of the South-South Cooperation Initiative to help developing countries promote agricultural and rural development, and eliminate poverty for shared development. In September 2015, President Xi Jinping of China, at the High-level Roundtable on South-South Cooperation co-hosted by UN and China, announced that China will deliver 100 agricultural assistance projects to developing countries in the coming five years. In December 2015, Xi announced the launching of the “China-Africa Modern Agriculture Cooperation Program” at the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. At the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation hosted in September 2018, Xi further announced that China will work with Africa to jointly formulate and implement overall planning and action plans for modern agriculture cooperation, and will deliver 50 agricultural assistance projects.
Now, the Chinese government is working closely with governments of other developing countries to implement the assistance projects announced by Xi. Taking into consideration the national conditions and demands of our partners, China has offered South-South cooperation agricultural projects in varied ways, including constructing farms, technical pilot centers, technical experiment stations, irrigation and drainage projects, offering material assistance such as farming machinery and agricultural product processing facilities, providing technical support by sending Chinese technicians and experts, and delivering training on agricultural management and know-how. These measures have proven to be effective in promoting agricultural development in partner nations, improving local yields of grain and cash crops, increasing farmers’ income, enhancing agricultural productivity and management, and achieving a higher level of food security.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Three days ago I was attending a press conference for launching the case study report on China’s agricultural assistance projects in Africa, co-hosted by China and the UNDP at the UN headquarters in New York. The report assesses two partnerships - the Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center in Mozambique and the Agricultural Technical Cooperation Project in Guinea-Bissau - as examples of what South-South cooperation can achieve.
With China's assistance, an agricultural technology demonstration center was established in Mozambique, where over 70 percent of the population works in agriculture. This project is a seed-breeding center and a training center. Advanced techniques and an irrigation system that meet local requirements, under a model of “construction – technical cooperation – commercialized operation”, have helped realize sustainable development of the local agricultural sector.
China has also established an Agricultural Technical Cooperation Project in Guinea-Bissau. Chinese experts visit local villages and farms to offer technical assistance and training to the farmers. Thanks to this project, local rice yield has risen to 4 to 5 tons per hectare in 2017-2018 from under 1.5 tons per hectare in 2014. Guinea-Bissau has realized structural transformation from a food importer to exporter, securing domestic food security.
Permanent representatives of Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau to the UN have both said that China has helped local farmers improve their self-initiated development capacity and their productivity for sustainable growth.
“UNDP welcomes these joint assessments, which illustrate China’s commitment to partnerships that support the achievement of national development goals and the aspirations of Africa’s 2063 Agenda and 2030 Agenda,” said Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen,
China is the largest developing country in the world. Our assistance to other nations is part of the South-South Cooperation Initiative, and stems from fraternity among developing countries. In all the cooperation projects I have mentioned, we have been committed to equality. We are guided by the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in China’s diplomatic endeavors. We do not interfere in developing countries' exploration of development paths in line with their national conditions, follow policy of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, attach no political conditions, impose no will on others, and seek no political gains from any of these partnerships.
We put righteousness first. China aligns its own development needs closely with the needs for shared development with other developing countries, and ties the realization of the Chinese Dream with improving livelihoods for people in other developing countries. In our economic cooperation with developing country partners, we adhere to the principle of "giving more, taking less; giving first and taking later; and giving without taking", and do not pursue economic returns.
We believe in “enabling”. A nation must rely on its own strength to realize and maintain economic development. The South-South cooperation initiated by China means to help other developing countries solidify their development capacity, cultivate local human resources and technical ability, help build infrastructure, develop and utilize domestic resources, lay a good foundation for development, and prepare them for a trajectory of independent development.
We do what the strength allows. In terms of the scale and approach of assistance projects, China, based on its own national conditions, provides as big help as its capacity allows. In the meantime, we fully respect the opinions held by the other developing countries. All projects should be determined and implemented in a manner of friendly negotiation, and we refrain from doing anything out of line with the partnership stage and the partners’ actual needs, and we do everything we can to prevent any excessive debts on partner countries.
We are committed to openness and inclusiveness. We are open to triangular cooperation involving Western developed countries and international organizations. With full respect for the benefit country’s will, under the principle that cooperation is “proposed by the benefit country, consented by the benefit country, and led by the benefit country”, we are more than willing to conduct practical cooperation with all relevant parties.
Ladies and gentlemen,
On April 18, 2018, the CIDCA was officially unveiled in China, marking the beginning of a new chapter for international cooperation by the Chinese government. An expression of the government’s long-term vision, the agency is an important reform in the management system of external assistance, and a key step by China in safeguarding worldwide peace and promoting shared development. It also has great significance for enhancing and expanding the South-South cooperation endeavors covering agricultural sectors, and for constructing a community with a shared future for mankind. China looks forward to working with our international partners to enhance South-South cooperation, promote further global cooperation, and make a greater contribution for achieving common prosperity and progress among countries.