Lessons shared for China-Africa relations

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/15 20:43:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Editor's Note:

China has long maintained sound relations with Africa. But as China rises and the relationship grows, applause and censure have followed. Where do China-Africa relations stand? How can the two sides work on the Belt and Road initiative to promote mutual development? At a conference jointly held by the Beijing-based Charhar Institute and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Foundation in Mauritius, diplomats from both countries shared their views on Public Diplomacy and China-Mauritius (Africa) Relations: Peace & Development.

Gong Yufeng, charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Mauritius

The Sino-Mauritius relationship is playing a unique role in China-Africa relations. To some extent, China-Mauritius cooperation is guiding the development of China-Africa cooperation. The two countries recently started free trade negotiations. Once signed, such an agreement would be the first between China and an African country.

Earlier this year, a senior US official warned African countries to be wary of China's growing influence on Africa's investment and aid, which shocked many around the world. It is necessary to clarify again.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said "China and Africa are friends tested by adversity. Such friends must never be forgotten." No matter how the world may change or what others may say, the profound friendship between China and Africa will remain unbreakable, and China's promise of sincerity, real results, friendship and good faith will remain true.

China has become Africa's largest trading partner and the most important source of investment and tourism for nine continuous years. China has helped Africa build more than 6,500 kilometers of railways, 6,000 kilometers of highways, 200 schools, 80 stadiums, dozens of government office buildings and a large number of airports and harbors. These achievements have contributed greatly to African modernization. As Africa's brother and partner, China will always bear in mind the needs and interests of African countries.

M K Lee Hon Chong, Mauritian Ambassador to China

I firmly believe that the strong bond of friendship and cooperation between China and Africa will keep growing from strength to strength in a mutually beneficial and supportive manner.

I have every reason to uphold such a belief, for the evolution of the warm and cordial relationship between China and Mauritius throughout the years bears testimony to where we were and where we are now. This relationship has always been characterized by mutual respect for the development paths taken by each country, and by non-interference in each other's domestic affairs.

We find nowadays limitations being set to restrict movement of persons whereas for Mauritius and China, it is totally different as our citizens are now granted 60 days visa upon arrival in China and Chinese citizens benefit from the same treatment upon landing in Mauritius.

China has been a constant friend of Mauritius in the past 46 years, and support is visible most notably in the infrastructure of Mauritius. I am therefore optimistic for the future of relations between China and Mauritius, and for the future of the relations between China and Africa.

Gao Yuchen, former Chinese ambassador to Mauritius

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit, which will take place in Beijing in September, will be a milestone in bilateral relations. The forum is committed to building a community of shared destiny between China and Africa, and facilitating the Belt and Road initiative to better connect with the development strategies of African nations. To this end, some efforts are needed.

Leaders from China and African countries have to strengthen their communication and understanding and arouse Africans' passion for joining the initiative. China also needs to try to make the initiative better linked with the development strategies of African countries and explore the best way in which these countries can join the initiative.

China and Africa need to push forward their cooperation on infrastructure, special economic zones and industrial parks, equipment manufacturing, energy, resources, finance and security. Cooperation programs have to be differentiated in accordance with the advantages of each African country.

China and Africa should also step up their support and protection for investment and trade so as to facilitate Chinese enterprises' operations in Africa. China needs to exchange more with African nations over national governance to help them enhance government service and training of African officials and technical staff. 

Dong Jinyi, former Chinese ambassador to Italy and Switzerland

China-Africa relations are under pressure from various sides and to cope with the situation requires efforts in several aspects.

At a national level, China and Africa have to consolidate the foundation of public support for the relationship among the people and make bilateral relations closer.

Chinese media need to do their job and tell China's stories in a more acceptable way. In refuting accusations of Chinese neocolonialism and acting as a predator of resources, the media have a critical role to play. More reports about the real China should be presented to change the stereotype of many people overseas. Chinese diplomats and entrepreneurs should be more proactive in accepting interviews with foreign media outlets and talk in a way that can be easily understood by Africans.

Non-governmental entities have their role to play. Chinese think tanks and research institutes should provide intelligent support to facilitate Chinese business in Africa. Many Africans feel that they haven't benefited from Chinese aid as the agreement is often made between governments. If some Chinese government aid programs could be carried out in coordination with non-government organizations from China and Africa, then African people will personally feel the warmth of China and the aid programs will produce better effects.

Chinese enterprises need to be more involved in local communities and respect the rights and interests of local Africans. Due to cultural differences, these enterprises often don't have the foresight for their long-term development in Africa. Their Chinese employees mostly have language problems and are unable to interact well with Africans. To change the situation, these Chinese enterprises need to create necessary conditions to facilitate employees' communication with locals and fulfill their corporate social responsibility to help local communities.  

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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