China, EU, Africa can benefit from working together

By Carlos Santana Source:Global Times Published: 2018/9/9 19:43:40

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT



 

Europe, China and Africa are all unique and totally different, but they are increasingly interconnected. Despite aiming to achieve different goals and dealing with different problems right now, the solution for some of their main concerns may lie in greater EU-China cooperation.

First, Africa needs to create wealth and prosperity. It faces challenges such as a lack of infrastructure, as well as poverty, politically instability and some levels of corruption. Trying to summarize Africa's problems in one article would be difficult, but trying to put in the effort and make the right choices and potential alliances that could help to alleviate the problems would definitely be worthwhile. Also not every country in the continent has the same level of development or natural resources. Any potential investment should be local-driven.

Second, Europe is not giving the right response to the humanitarian crisis that migration from Africa is causing. Thousands of people are leaving their homes, families and jobs behind in order to risk everything to get to Europe. The EU authorities are focusing on the consequences rather than the cause and are simply trying to create walls instead of developing opportunities for the people.

Third, China needs to articulate a solid international strategy based on the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, so that the growth of the B&R can continue in a sustainable way. China's interests in Africa are not new or opportunist. Like all countries, China's ultimate goal should be to improve its citizens' lives. Achieving this without causing further damage to the planet and its inhabitants would be the ideal situation. Europe doesn't have a great reputation for avoiding causing damage in the process of boosting its development, and neither do the US or Japan.

Concern about a neo-imperialist pattern may be the reason for the skepticism that some Western media reports have shown toward China's investment in Africa.  But China is showing its continued commitment to Africa and is now transforming aid into investment, creating a win-win situation. The increasing understanding between China and Africa is natural, and by 2050, 25 percent of the world's estimated population will be African, while a decent portion will be Chinese.

The agreements at the recent Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing are great news for all the parties involved, and for Europe as well, even though its representatives were not at the meeting. The creation of wealth in Africa and ensuring that it remains in Africa can come from industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare. It is also important to boost public health, people-to-people exchanges and peace and security.

The creation of wealth will help Africa to reduce inequality, as long as the investment and its results are not tarnished by corruption. Therefore, the projects should be business-driven. That's what China is proposing.

In addition, the development of projects led by Chinese companies can help China to avoid the so-called middle-income trap, as well as supporting the internationalization of its economy, boosting efficiency and reducing the economy's dependence on exports. The development of Africa can also mitigate the migration crisis in Europe through the creation of jobs and stability.

If the EU joins forces with the China-Africa cooperation process, the opportunities this scenario may create are incredible. It could also bring the EU-China relationship to the next level. Industrial cooperation between the EU and China could help in the construction of railways, airports, ports, highways and much more. It could also help restore Africa to the position it deserves. If this trial run works in Africa, the cooperation could be replicated in Latin America and Asia.

The author is director of Mundiver Group and senior consultant for the Yiwu-Spain Foundation. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn



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