B&R initiative receives welcome in Africa

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/16 22:18:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT



Close cooperation between China and Africa has drawn the attention of the world. However, criticism and reproach borne out of jealousy and conspiracy have also been aroused. Serial reports by The New York Times on China's so-called "New Colonial Power" on the eve of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation are such instances.

As a matter of fact, China-Africa cooperation nowadays is mostly initiated by African countries voluntarily. China never forces them to collaborate with it.

For one thing, unlike what some Western countries did in the past, China respects the sovereignty of African countries. For another, the China-Africa collaboration is based on the willingness of both parties. This collaboration has been carried out under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and both sides have enjoyed a high degree of comfort. 

The African countries as well as other states and regions along the Belt and Road route lack funding and a solid foundation for infrastructure building. China's help in this respect is indispensable to them.

Regarding economic and trade cooperation, infrastructure and capacity building are the key points. By promoting the Belt and Road initiative, China aims to help the 65 countries along the route build railways and do business while promoting local industrialization. This cooperation will be achieved through the platform of industrial parks, promoting the industrialization of the countries involved, and helping them acquire the capability for sustainable development.

The criticism that China's initiative is aimed at grabbing the resources of the target countries is not supported by field investigations.

Having just finished a study trip in Ethiopia, I can attest that such reproach is groundless and untenable. Along both sides of Ethiopia's highway there is affordable housing constructed by the local government, which China's help of providing loans for infrastructure construction has contributed a lot. The local government is thus able to spare more funds to improve citizens' livelihood. In this sense, China has made indirect contributions to the improvement of the livelihood of the local people. 

China has also established the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway project and industrial parks in Ethiopia, a less-developed country with insufficient resources. China is obviously not grabbing resources there. In reality, it is helping the country to develop its own industrial capacity, making it capable of increasing exports. China's assistance aims to improve the country's capacity for independent development. 

Africa does not lack a labor force, but there is a shortage of technical workers. China has just provided a platform to meet this need. Chinese companies invested in Africa have trained local workers and taught them skills.

The accomplishments of overseas Chinese are also a manifestation of Chinese soft power, as the success of overseas businesses depends on close collaboration with the local people. China's success reflects a successful integration of Chinese people and business into the local region.

In recent years Chinese enterprises have already blended harmoniously into Africa, and the locals also think highly of China's assistance.

Despite not being among the 65 countries along the Belt and Road route, many African countries have also taken an active role in collaborating with China and want to be involved in the initiative. It has become clear that there is no geographical border to the Belt and Road initiative. Even if a country is not on the list, so long as it is willing to collaborate with China, cooperation can be conducted since both parties are fully prepared.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Ma Linna based on an interview with Yao Jiamei, a research fellow with the institute of West-Asian and African Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion

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