Africa will disdain responding to West’s China smears

By Song Wei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/12 0:03:40

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT


Recently, French newspaper Le Monde reported that China had hacked the African Union (AU) headquarters' computer system and downloaded confidential data, but it claimed that because of the aid China has given, AU officials dared not speak out.

This story seems to be part of the new "sharp power" theory created by the West about China. According to this theory, the above incident can be seen as a case where China is using enormous economic investment to force African countries to grit their teeth.

However, the report distorted the logical premise of China-Africa relations, whose starting point was South-South cooperation.

First, there is the active promotion of technology transfers. Africa is the youngest continent in the world. One-sixth of the world's youth live in Africa, accounting for 20 percent of the total population of Africa. This makes raising technology levels and employability a priority for poverty alleviation in Africa.

China has offered study and research opportunities to train experts in fields such as agriculture and industry. From 2011 to 2016, China conducted more than 800 technical training projects and attracted more than 20,000 participants.

In addition, technical maintenance and operational management in African countries has been gradually improved by China's participation in large-scale infrastructure projects such as the Tanzania Zambia Railway. Since China gave Africa real technologies, after the projects were transferred, the majority of African young people were still capable of achieving re-employment with the skills they learned.

Second, there has been an improvement of social governance. African countries are involved in the third wave of democratization, which has made multi-party elections and tribal politics interlaced. This political picture has seriously restricted the economic development of Africa.

Even Western scholars who consistently advocate "good governance" in Africa are starting to lack confidence.

China has continuously enhanced multilateral or bilateral training in the areas of economic management, political diplomacy, public administration and vocational education. As such, China has helped increase the administrative skills of government officials at all levels in African countries and emphasized the modernization of governance capabilities.

Third, there is a strengthened ability to participate in global governance. Affected by the global economic downturn, mercantilism and protectionism have risen in the West, the US has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate accord, globalization has suffered a reversal and the majority of African countries are at risk of being marginalized again.

Against this background, as a beneficiary of globalization and using its own experience, China has actively led African countries in participating in global governance and sharing the development dividends of globalization.

On the one hand, China, in light of its experience in WTO accession and the economic reform process, has actively provided technical assistance to African countries and enhanced their multilateral trade negotiation capabilities.

On the other hand, China has, through signing cooperation agreements with the UN Development Program, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Organization for Migration, among others, jointly enhanced the level of multilateral compliance in African countries and their ability to participate.

Developed countries continue to cut aid to Africa. For example, the US recently announced a drastic reduction in the overseas efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

China has strengthened its organic integration of trade, investment and assistance to Africa and explored various modes of mixed financing for development, including public-private partnerships and multi-stakeholder partnerships. We will intensify the leverage effect of aid funds and continue to expand the scale of financing to African countries.

The difference is obvious. The West can only continue to distort public opinion. The US often stops aid payments under the pretext that the aid has failed to achieve the desired result.

For example, after US declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, US President Donald Trump said that for countries that condemned this move, the US will stop providing aid. Tanzania supported a vote in the UN condemning Trump's proposal. That aroused much criticism at home from those who were worried that the country might lose US financial support.

In the face of smears of China by the West, African countries are helpless and must keep silent.

The development cooperation between China and Africa is an equal exchange between late developers. Apart from responding to the development demands of African countries and providing assistance to build the many infrastructure projects necessary for economic development, China has also shared its experience in technological development and state administration from the dimensions of hard power and soft power to comprehensively upgrading the development elements of African countries and building a community with a shared future.

It is anticipated that with China and Africa intensifying efforts to build a human community of common destiny, Africa will increasingly disdain responding to Western countries' smears of China.

The author is an associate researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.


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