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China helps African people build an Africa they want

from:新华网2015-12-05 14:30

SOUTH AFRICA-JOHANNESBURG-CHINA-XI JINPING-SUMMIT

File photo: Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 4, 2015. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)

As a milestone in the history of China-Africa relations, the 2nd Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from Dec. 4 to 5, which is the first time for the event to be held in Africa. Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma co-chair the summit.

President Xi has visited Africa twice to attend BRICS summit and FOCAC summit in less than three years, which was rarely seen in the history of China-Africa relations and African diplomatic history, demonstrating Chinese government’s high attention to China-Africa relations. The Johannesburg summit is expected to open a new era of China-Africa cooperation.

First, China has new ideas on China-Africa cooperation. In 2013, President Xi visited Africa on his first overseas trip after he took office and stressed the principle of “sincerity”, “real results”, “affinity” and “good faith” in treating African friends. He also encouraged Chinese companies to uphold justice while pursuing shared interests. In 2014, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang put forward a framework for China-Africa cooperation that covers the building of expressway, advanced railway and regional aviation network in a bid to help promote African countries’ industrialization process.

Africa is of great significance to China’s “Belt and Road” initiatives which is committed to the principles of consultation, joint construction and sharing and aimed at common development and prosperity as well as the building of a community of shared interests, responsibilities and destiny. Besides the FOCAC summit, Africa can also benefit from the “Belt and Road” initiatives.

Second, China can provide Africa with new paths and mode of development. Since the end of WWII, Africa has once been affected by Western “free market” mode which didn’t bring Africa effective development. In order to perpetuate Africa’s dependence on the West and ensure its vested interests, the West always interferes in the internal affairs of African countries on the excuse of “freedom, democracy and human rights”, attaches various political conditions to its aid to Africa as well as impedes African countries’ choice of development path.

As the world’s second largest economy, China has made remarkable achievements in political and economic construction and accumulated abundant development experience since the beginning of its opening-up and reform. African countries study, learn and practice China’s development experience in the hope of finding a development road that is consistent with their own national conditions. China won’t and needn’t force African countries to follow its own development mode, but it can provide new reference for their development.

Third, China and Africa provide opportunities to each other’s development for their strong economic complementarity. China is rich in capital, technology, management expertise and talents, while Africa has abundant natural resources and huge market potential. After more than three decades’ development, China has reached a high level in fields like infrastructure construction, industrialization, food security, public health, information technology and peace and security.

However, most African countries are facing great challenges in those fields due to deficit in their development. They also rely on export of raw materials and are weak in manufacturing capacity because of simplex economic structure and low added value of products. China and Africa can establish comprehensive strategic partnership in the fields above to help Africa realize independent and sustainable development.

The “Belt and Road” initiatives require giving priority to developing infrastructure interconnectivity and provide strong investment and financing support so as to solve problems in Africa’s development. China is building new global financial mechanisms and establishing financing institutions like Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) and the “Silk Road” fund.

Africa has high expectations on China’s financing capacity. Africa’s sustainable economic development, of course, is also China’s opportunity and its experiences in development and governance are worth learning for China.

At last, China is capable of helping African people build an Africa they want. Since 2013, African Union (AU) has compiled and approvedAfrican Agenda 2063, aiming at building an Africa that African people want through establishing partnership with other countries. At present, China and Africa are at a mature period of cooperation in each field. China’s high-quality industries and capacity which are transferred to Africa can contribute to developing manufacturing industry, increasing added value of local raw materials, establishing and improving Africa’s industry chain and supply chain so as to integrate “Made in Africa” into global value chain. Of course, a balance between Africa’s social and economic development and environment should be achieved.

It can be predicted that a new blueprint of China-Africa relations and Africa’s development can be worked out at the FOCAC summit in Johannesburg, and this historic opportunity can promote China-Africa cooperation to a new high and open a new chapter for the cooperation.

By Zeng Aiping, China Institute of International Studies

Translated by Zhang Zhou

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