7 May 2014

Africa: China-Africa Ties to Enter New Era

Beijing — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's African trip will help create an upgraded version of China-Africa all-round cooperation and carry forward the relationship to a new era.

This is another significant diplomatic move taken by China's new leadership in the new circumstances, after Chinese President Xi Jinping's maiden overseas trip in March 2013.

Chinese top leaders' frequent visits to the continent show that Africa is of significant importance to China's foreign policy, and that the relationship between the two sides has stood the test of time.

MUTUAL POLITICAL SUPPORT

The relations between the two sides have entered a "golden period," and the two sides share closely-linked destinies, said Li prior to and during his trip.

China and Africa have always supported each other and treated each other as equals during the course of national liberalization and construction, said Li, who is visiting Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya.

Actually, the seeds of affinity were sown in the mid-20th century, when the Chinese and African peoples supported each other in their just cause of fighting imperialism to gain national independence.

On October 25, 1971, China resumed its legal status in the United Nations largely due to support from the developing world, including many African countries. Late Chinese leader Mao Zedong said with humor: "It's our African brothers that have carried us into the U.N."

In October 2000, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was launched. In 2006, China and Africa agreed to upgrade their relationship to a new type of strategic partnership featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchanges.

Fifty years after late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai's landmark visit to the continent, Li's visit is crucial to further deepen the China-Africa comprehensive cooperative partnership.

China supports Africa in solving Africa's problems in an African way and stands ready to assist Africa's capacity-building in such areas as peace-keeping, counter-terrorism and anti-piracy, Li said.

Reaffirming the defining feature of China-Africa relations as sincerity, friendship, mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, which was first summed up by Xi during his visit to Africa last year, Li said past interactions are great treasures to his country and continue to nurture the development of bilateral ties.

PRAGMATIC COOPERATION

China is the world's largest developing country and Africa is a continent made up of mainly developing countries. The cooperation between the two will not only bring about mutually beneficial and win-win results, but also help promote world economic balance and inclusive growth, Li said.

In 2013, China-Africa trade reached 210 billion U.S. dollars, 2,000 times that of 1960. China has been Africa's biggest trading partner for five years running. More than 2,500 Chinese companies are operating in Africa, creating over 100,000 jobs.

Last year, more than 1.4 million Chinese visited Africa, bringing a huge amount of foreign currency to Africans.

According to a report of the International Monetary Fund, China-Africa cooperation has contributed to more than 20 percent of Africa's development.

The so-called "China's neo-colonialism in Africa" is a false accusation inconsistent with Chinese tradition and culture, and does not reflect the reality of friendly, equal-footed and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa, Li said.

Like many African countries, China once suffered foreign invasion and fell under colonial and semi-colonial rule. "Do not do to others what you do not want done to you" is a millennia-old idea important in Chinese civilization, Li told African media.

As China is at a critical stage of comprehensively deepening reform and speeding up the transformation of the economic development model, Africa has also started its new journey of seeking strength through unity and promoting development for renewal. China-Africa cooperation thus has the potential of great strides forward.

China is ready to expand cooperation with Africa in building roads, railways, telecommunications networks, power grids and other infrastructure facilities so as to help the continent realize regional interconnectivity, he said, adding that Beijing also encourages Chinese enterprises to form joint ventures with African counterparts in a bid to improve Africa's regional aviation industry.

China is also willing to use its world-leading technologies in high-speed trains to help improve pan-African communication and development.

In the financial area, Li said China has decided to increase its loans for African countries by 10 billion dollars, which brings the total pledged amount to 30 billion dollars, and to expand the China-Africa development fund by 2 billion dollars to 5 billion dollars.

As to poverty reduction, China will train 2,000 agricultural technicians and management personnel for Africa in the coming five years, and tilt its assistance toward such welfare areas as drinking water and prevention and control of epidemics.

ROBUST CULTURAL EXCHANGES

China and Africa have brilliant cultures, Li said, adding that mutual respect and learning between civilizations and cultures is conducive to diversity of world civilizations and multi-polarization.

Cultural exchanges between the two have yielded fruitful results in various fields, and "China factor" has aroused interest in African people as China seeks to bolster its cultural bond with Africa.

Several Chinese television series, such as "A Beautiful Daughter-in-Law" and "Beijing Love" resonate with African audiences who come across the same problems in their families.

"One of the attributes that makes China a great nation is their hard-workingness, creativity and patriotism," Rose Namayanja, Uganda's minister of information and national guidance, has said, adding that "I trust the films will entertain and mobilize Ugandans to emulate and adopt those similar values."

The Confucius institutes serve as another channel for African students to get closer to the Chinese culture and learn the Chinese language.

Now about 30 Confucius institutes have been set up across Africa, offering various language courses and lectures, exhibitions and performances to African students.

In addition, several Chinese cultural groups visited Africa to showcase Chinese culture, a critical factor in boosting people-to-people exchanges.

On the other hand, China welcomes African artists, academicians and young people to see by themselves China's rich cultural heritage.

China has also increased its scholarships for African students, who later returned home with a love for Chinese culture.

Theo, a young Ghanaian, who has been studying international journalism and communication for three years at a university in Beijing, said he has discovered quite a few similarities between his homeland and China, both undergoing vast changes amid fast development. "It would be a great opportunity to observe and study the process in real time," he said.

The Chinese premier said China will carry out its African talent plan in an all-round manner and will provide African countries with 18,000 government scholarships and help them train 30,000 professionals as scheduled.

Unlike the West, which tries to exert cultural dominance over Africa, China has many common values with Africa and seeks to bolster its cultural bonds with the continent on the basis of respect for Africa's diversified cultures.

- Xinhua

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