Chinese modernization offers inspiration, hope for African countries, say African diplomats and scholars
Published: May 19, 2023 01:36 AM
The second conference on

The second conference on "Dialogue between Chinese and African Civilizations" is held in Beijing on May 16 and 17. Photo: Courtesy of the China-Africa Institute

China's approach to modernization offers a valuable model for African countries seeking to achieve economic growth and development, offering valuable opportunities for African countries, diplomats and scholars said at the second conference on "Dialogue between Chinese and African Civilizations," which concluded on Wednesday in Beijing. 

Over the past several decades, China has been modernizing a country home to 1.4 billion people - or one-fifth of the global population - to become the world's second-largest economy. Its march toward modernization has global ramifications.

But what makes China's modernization different from Western developed countries today? African observers have their own answers.

African countries are actively promoting modernization and independent development, and China offers inspiration for many African countries, Rahamtalla M. Osman, the permanent representative of the African Union to China, said at the conference.

"We should attach great importance to training talented African people who work in the field of exchanges and mutual learning about civilization. I hope that African countries could deepen understanding of China in their exchanges and mutual learning about civilization, thereby making greater contributions to sustainable peace, development and human progress," said Osman.

China and Africa, as the largest developing country and the most concentrated continent of developing countries, are both striving to find suitable development paths for themselves and have achieved historic achievements, Liu Yuxi, special representative of the Chinese government on African affairs, stated at the conference.

The development advantages of China and Africa are highly complementary, and the prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation are broad. The two sides are walking at the forefront of the world in the process of building a global community of shared future, setting an example and a model for South-South cooperation and global development cooperation, Liu noted.

Today, China is supporting African countries in driving agricultural development to alleviate poverty. African countries have benefited from China's model of peaceful development and continuous renewal. 

The accelerated pace of modernization combined with peaceful and inclusive development that China has embraced with zeal is inspiring African countries as they embark on a new chapter of renewal, experts said.

Ambassador of South Sudan to China Monday Semaya Kenneth Kumba suggested that China's proposals for jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative are very important for Africa, and African countries fully support these initiatives. 

The envoy said that Africa has a positive view of China's role, as China does not interfere in internal affairs and supports the independent development of African countries.

While Western countries plundered resources in Africa and offered conditional aid, China has been generous in recommending successful governance lessons to Africa.

From May 14 to 15, the China-Africa Institute organized for more than a dozen scholars from African countries to visit a rural revitalization demonstration base in Zhengding in north China's Hebei Province, a model of digital agriculture and smart farming in China's agricultural modernization. The tour impressed the African delegates with how rural vitalization serves as a key move to develop a modernized economy.

Charles Onunaiju, director of the Center for China Studies in Nigeria pointed out that Africa is currently facing a new historical turning point, which is the cooperation between Africa and China. He pointed out that China is one of the few partners who have both the willingness and ability to help Africa develop. 

"The biggest challenge facing Africa at present is poverty. I believe that we must attach importance to improving the material living conditions of the people, only by doing so can we talk about Africa's pride, Africa's civilization, and Africa's rejuvenation. This is also what China has done at the historical turning point of its reform and opening-up," he suggested. 

Alpha Mohamed Jalloh, director of the China-Africa Institute at Sierra Leone's University of Makeni, pointed out that the African continent has enormous development potential, rich natural resources, and a young and vibrant population, but it also faces multiple challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, political instability, and insufficient education and medical resources. 

Jalloh said that Africa-China cooperation has brought great opportunities to Africa, and he also hopes that Africa-China cooperation can go beyond the scope of economic and infrastructure construction and move toward a broader horizon. 

Li Xinfeng, Executive President of the China-Africa Institute, said that African countries are exploring a local modernization path that is in line with African reality. Currently, the African Continental Free Trade Area is accelerating construction, marking an important step in Africa's industrialization and modernization process. With the deepening of China-Africa high-quality joint construction of the BRI, cultural and civilizational exchanges between China and Africa will reach a new level, truly realizing the common development aspirations of China and Africa.

Scholars and representatives also generally believe that the exchange and mutual learning between Chinese and African civilizations will have broad prospects. 

Osman said that the Global Civilization Initiative is another important public product provided by China to the international community, reflecting China's wisdom, following the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative. This initiative has pushed China's dialogue with world civilizations to a new height. 

Peter Kagwanja, president of the Africa Policy Institute in Kenya, believes that China's many initiatives uphold the common interests of the world and contribute to achieving lasting peace and development in the world. 

Chinese modernization and African modernization are two different modernization models with different civilizations and paths, but they share common goals and directions. Africa benefits from Chinese modernization and hopes to learn more from it to jointly build a community of shared future for China and Africa, said Kagwanja.