Netizens salute SOE air crash victims

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2019/3/12 22:28:40

Epitome of nation’s contributions, image in Africa: expert

Chinese and African entrepreneurs talk to each other at a China-Africa investment promotion event in Yiwu, East China's Zhejiang Province, on Thursday. At the event, Chinese and African businesses discussed potential investment plans in a wide range of sectors, including e-commerce, manufacturing and healthcare. Photo: VCG

Four employees of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have lost their lives in the horrific crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302, casting a spotlight on the "main force role" of China's SOEs and their employees to Africa's development. 

The Ethiopian jetliner carrying 157 people crashed on its way to Nairobi, Kenya. The consular protection center of China's Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday that eight Chinese citizens died in the crash, four of whom were working at SOEs in Africa.

The four employees were identified as Jin Yetao from the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, Zhou Yuan from the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETGC), and Wang Hao and Gao Shuang from the China Aviation Supplies Holding Company. 

The death of these four SOEs' employees has triggered a flood of condolences from Chinese netizens. 

Many hailed their contributions to and efforts for Africa and China. 

"You, heroes, put your lives on the African continent, we won't forget you. We shall treat your families properly," a netizen on Sina Weibo said. "They are excellent! Being the representatives of the nation isn't easy," another netizen said.

 Other netizens hailed them as heroes who died for BRI and globalization, saying China is always in need of SOEs to explore.

For Jin, it seemed like a normal business trip. Since 2018, Jin had traveled to more than 30 countries over 50 times, which means 260 days a year he was on business trips. Jin had also been stationed in South Sudan for years, The Beijing News reported on Tuesday. 

He was on his way to launch a professional education program in Kenya, Uganda and Gabon. Its aim is to support countries along BRI routes to realize industrialization and help local young people improve their professional techniques.

Zhou's life is similar. The 38-year-old man had worked for about 15 years in his company as a program manager in Africa, frequently traveling to Kenya, Angola and Tanzania, CETGC said on its WeChat account on Tuesday. 

Chinese SOEs are the main force of the development of Africa, which have the finances, technology management and professional teams private firms don't have. They are the true driving force of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Africa, especially on infrastructure construction, He Wenping, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing and frequent visitor to Africa, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The delegates of these companies in Africa serve as the bridge between Chinese companies and local governments. They are the epitome of China's contributions and image in the continent, He said.

They are usually very young and contribute their golden years to Africa, He noted. 

He said what SOEs do in Africa is very hard. They are not only responsible for the business but also represent China. 

It is normal for the delegates to do many tasks by themselves, which means they have to endure physical, language and professional challenges, He said, adding that they also risk contracting diseases, such as malaria, and being robbed. 

Mark Kapchanga, a citizen in Nairobi, Kenya, told the Global Times on Tuesday that Chinese companies in Africa offer huge employment opportunities for locals, and Chinese employees pass on their skills to local people through mentorship, exchanges and training.

 Chinese SOEs have brought huge fortunes and convenience to Africa by operating projects such as roads and ports, and energy and housing. The companies also engaged in corporate social responsibility, such as the building of schools and digging of boreholes, Kapchanga said.  

Chinese companies are present in 53 countries and six regions in Africa, according to the BRI website.

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