China will deepen security and defense cooperation with African countries to help them better tackle complex security issues ranging from piracy to epidemics, officials said on Tuesday.
Major General Hu Changming, director of the Office for International Military Cooperation under the Central Military Commission, made the remark at the opening of the first China-Africa Defense and Security Forum in Beijing. Representatives from 50 African countries and regional organizations attend the ongoing forum.
The history of Sino-African security cooperation dates to the mid-20th century, and the China-Africa security ties, which are win-win in nature, have become a major factor in maintaining regional peace and security, Hu said.
Boosting African countries' own defense capability will provide a solid foundation for development of the Belt and Road Initiative and a community with a shared future for mankind. The Chinese military is willing to provide comprehensive support to help African nations improve their abilities to tackle security challenges, he said.
The support includes necessary equipment, technologies, personnel, strategic advice as well as medical, training and legal cooperation, Hu said. China will also continue to participate in peacekeeping, disaster relief, humanitarian aid and escort missions in partnership with and consensus from African nations.
Lieutenant General Brima Sesay, chief of defense staff of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, said African countries highly value their military cooperation with China and are willing to strengthen exchanges and collaboration with the Chinese military.
China has consistently been providing military support across all military branches to African countries, and has recently expanded cooperation in addressing nontraditional security threats, such as diseases and natural disasters, Sesay said.
"China is a reliable, dependable partner and friend. It has reached out to African countries through cooperation based on respect and true friendship," he said.
Colonel Ibrahim Yahye of the Somalia Air Force, said President Xi Jinping, as well as Chinese speakers at the forum, have emphasized truthfulness, honesty, closeness and sincerity in China-Africa relations, and "there are no hidden agendas or price", he said.
Colonel Bana Segale Pilane, defense adviser at the embassy of the Republic of Botswana to China, said the Chinese military has much experience dealing with counterterrorism, piracy, peacekeeping and disaster management and aid. "I imagine China-Africa cooperation can only get better," he said.