China Sends Special Envoys to Africa in View of FOCAC Summit 2024

Preparations for the upcoming 9th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit are well underway. In that context, Chinese diplomats have been delivering invitation letters to heads of state or government across Africa.

Chinese special representative on African Affairs, Mr LIU Yuxi, has even made the rounds to personally deliver the invitation to a few countries, notably, Burundi, Libya, Rwanda, Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Chinese Special Envoy Liu Yuxi Meets with DRC PM Judith Tuluka Suminwa
Chinese Special Envoy Liu Yuxi Meets with DRC PM Judith Tuluka Suminwa

At the same time, provincial-level delegations are also multiplying engagements in Africa. For instance, the Shandong provincial delegation visited Zimbabwe, while Shanxi province sent another delegation to Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

Moreover, Mr CHEN Wenqing, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs, led a delegation to South Africa from 20 to 24 June 2024.

At FOCAC Summits, China typically announced generous pledges for financing that is destined mostly for infrastructure building. However, the amount appears to follow a downward trend over the past few #FOCAC meetings, which take place every three years. Thus, in 2015 and 2018, USD 60 billion was promised, while only USD 40 billion was provided at the 2021 edition.

The reduction of funding can probably be partly attributed to the COVID pandemic, as well as persistent economic headwinds and fiercer geopolitical competition. Faced with rising criticisms on white elephant projects and debt trap diplomacy, China has vowed to recalibrate its cooperation model with Africa by focusing on ‘high-quality development.’

Some observers believe that in addition to the traditional infrastructure, this edition of the #FOCAC2024 Summit will see cooperation in new sectors such as agriculture, industrialization and local value addition (#LVA) of minerals in a bid to achieve ‘shared prosperity’ and to build a ‘common destiny.’

Chinese Special Envoy Liu Yuxi Meets with Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye
Chinese Special Envoy Liu Yuxi Meets with Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye

In order to get everybody on the same page, the 13th China-Africa Think Tanks Forum (CATTF) took place in Tanzania in March 2024. The forum saw the participation of more than 300 scholars from 50 countries. At the end, the Chinese and African scholars jointly issued the Dar es Salaam Consensus.

Another follow-up seminar was the held in Beijing on 7 June 2024 and chaired by Professor LIU Hongwu, Director of the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University (IASZJNU). The event saw the participation of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), and the Center for International Knowledge on Development (CIKD).

It is also worth noting that China has appointed Mr DU Xiaohui as the new Director-General of African Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One of his top priority tasks would be to orchestrate the organization of the upcoming 9th FOCAC Summit 2024 scheduled to take place in Beijing from 3 to 8 September 2024.