China, Western countries can partner in African development
Published: Mar 26, 2019 09:28 PM
For years, many Western countries have warily eyed China's expanding footprints in Africa. China's emergence as a major player in Africa's trade, investment and aid has sparked anxiety among some countries. However, a win-win-win result can be achieved if they discard the zero-sum mindset and treat China as a partner, instead of a rival, to jointly unleash the development potential of the vast continent. 

In a Monday Twitter post, French President Emmanuel Macron said China and France are not strategic rivals in Africa, and the two countries could be long-term partners for security, education and infrastructure there. This is a laudable gesture. 

Recent years have seen some Western countries adjust policies and build engagement in Africa. Macron announced France would make Africa a top priority in his first foreign policy address delivered to France's 170 ambassadors in 2017. 

Since then, he visited a string of African countries and pledged security and economic initiatives to re-shape France's relations with the continent.

China welcomes France and other European countries to increase their involvement in African security and ramp up investment. The African continent is grappling with security challenges, ranging from terrorism and refugees to piracy. It also needs massive investments to close its infrastructure gap. 

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative is an open economic cooperation initiative, not a military or geopolitical alliance. For Africa, the initiative is to help build infrastructure that can break bottlenecks in the continent's development. France and other European countries are encouraged to participate in it, which will not only boost bilateral relations, but also propel third-party cooperation in Africa. 

There are warnings from some Western leaders and scholars against the so-called China debt trap and risks of forfeiting sovereignty to China over loans. 

But accusations that China is colonizing Africa with investment, loans and aid are groundless. If Western countries are really concerned about the continent's development, why not become part of efforts to contribute and cooperate with China under the Belt and Road Initiative? 

Europeans are very concerned about the governance of Africa, but so are the Chinese. China is willing to introduce its own governance experience to African countries, and is willing to cooperate with European countries in this regard. But Europe needs to change its view on China's experience and see the significance of China's experience from the perspective of helping Africa.

Africa is no longer the colony of the West. African countries have the right to conduct economic cooperation with any country they want. The deepening China-Africa cooperation and growing Chinese presence attest to the success of the China model.
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