Africa recognizes vital assistance provided by China

By Toumert Al Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/9 20:18:39

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

To understand the strong Sino-African relationship, we must remember historical events in the last century.

Africa has long been considered a peripheral continent. It endured painful colonization by Western powers, and never recovered economically or politically from the post-World War II global order.

Under the leadership of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, China established the concept of "Sino-African friendship" since both China and many of the decolonized African nations were taken advantage of by imperialistic nations such as Japan and European states.

In 1955, during the Bandung conference, China started its engagement policy toward Africa, which was followed by the construction of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA), one of China's largest foreign aid projects.  Furthermore, during the second half of the last century, China sent thousands of medics to support African countries in modernizing their health systems and to offer training in different fields of surgery and medical care.

This unique cooperation based on a common past in dealing with foreign powers, and the fact that China in its first engagement with the continent focused on building its infrastructure and helping its social development, paved the way for more robust economic relations, especially once China decided through its opening-up policy to free its market potential and engage with world economies.

Africans were and still are very engaged in the Chinese economy. Africans prefer trading with China to trading with Europeans or Americans. The warm and supportive feeling we receive from Chinese traders and government bodies is in contrast with the arrogance we get from Western traders and political bodies, and this has been an essential factor in the success of Sino-African relations.

However China's commitment to Africa is not only at the trade level. It also supports political stability and the peaceful rise of its institutions and people.

China is facilitating the African Union's political structural integration and is also actively engaged in various peace-keeping missions in the continent, as well as fighting piracy in coastal areas.

The importance of Africa for China led to the launch of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) at the start of the 21st century, to strengthen the gains achieved in the 20th century. And in December 2015 during the China-Africa summit, China offered the most extensive cooperation package ever delivered to African nations, in the form of loans worth $60 billion and credit to develop necessary areas.

And following in the footsteps of the TAZARA project last century, Kenya inaugurated this year a new railway link between the port city of Mombasa and the capital, Nairobi. Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta reportedly said during the launch that the $3.2 billion Chinese-funded line signaled a new chapter for the country, as it is Kenya's biggest infrastructure project since independence.

As an African who has lived in China since 2000, I would like to see the African Union and all nations in Africa recognize the monumental role China is playing at all levels in helping our continent. We should also strengthen the future of this cooperation by supporting the Belt and Road initiative and by becoming members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The author is director of Education, International Bachelor Program at the International School under China Foreign Affairs University.


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