| Global Times | 2013-3-28 18:43:00
By Wang Tao
The first foreign trip of Chinese President Xi Jinping includes Russia and three African countries.
If the Russian visit is viewed as improving relations with big powers, the African visit signals an increasingly explicit Chinese strategy for international cooperation.
Xi underscored China's friendship with Africa in Tanzania on Monday, emphasizing that "a friend in need is a friend indeed" and "this will not change at all because of China's own growth and rising international stature."
China's plans to implement the strategy of "going out" and "peaceful rise" are confined by the blockade of the US "island chain" and complicated issues of the Northeast Asia in the Pacific region.
In the Indian Ocean region China faces high costs when competing in Southeast Asia and South Asia due to the US pivot to the Asia-Pacific and India's "Look East" policy, while the Middle East is a main target of US intervention.
Therefore, African states, which have a traditional friendship with China, have naturally become more preferred for China to carry out its diplomatic strategies.
Through the efforts of four generations of Chinese leaders, Africa has become an all-weather friend of China. With the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Sino-African relations have embraced all-round development and prosperity.
The trade volume between China and Africa surpassed $200 billion in 2012. And the exports of China to Africa last year totaled $113 billion, 20 times as large as that of 10 years ago.
The closer economic relationship has also increased the role that developing countries play in global trade. Their proportion of trade has surpassed 25 percent nowadays, which helps strengthen South-South cooperation, shift the global economic order and promote world economic justice.
As stated by South African President Jacob Zuma, when the West was criticizing China's neo-colonialism in Africa, their own gestures in African politics were not welcomed.
Most Kenyans appreciated China's respect as China reemphasized its support on the country despite results of the 2013 elections. And 75 percent of China's investments in Africa focus on infrastructure construction.
This contributes to promoting Africa's development and consolidating the foundation for industrialization. It's a win-win result that China benefits from trading with Africa while at the same time boosting the local African economy.
However, problems stemming from the development of bilateral relations are worth special attention.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Sanusi Lamido Sanusi's views on Sino-African relations are representative. He holds that the two will be confronted with various problems after the honeymoon ends, warning that Africa must "remove the rose-tinted glasses."
Problems like environmental destruction and illegal labor in Africa cannot be ignored. Some Africans are not satisfied with the terms of employment offered by Chinese companies in Africa, and protectionism has been stimulated in local markets with many Chinese products pouring in.
But both sides should realize that these are not the mainstream of the development of bilateral relations. Sino-African cooperation shouldn't be suspended but strengthened to overcome these difficulties.
Africa has been presented with plenty of partner candidates, China is unable to win African cooperation merely though economic assistance. China is pursuing its "Chinese dream." It should convince Africa that the "Chinese dream" is not only related to China's rejuvenation, but also could benefit Africans and boost prosperity for both.
The author is a doctoral candidate in the Institute of African Studies at Yunnan University. firstname.lastname@example.org
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