Letter to the Editor of Public Eye
（From Chinese Embassy in Lesotho）
On February 24, 2012, Lesotho newspaper Public Eye carried a reader's letter entitled "Is China Late to the Party in Africa?", making groundless accusations against China-Africa cooperation. Press Officer of the Chinese Embassy in Lesotho wrote a letter to the newspaper in response. On March 9, Public Eye published the letter under the title of "China-Africa Relations: a Partnership Based on Mutual Respect". The letter goes as follows:
After reading "Is China late to the party in Africa?", which appeared in the LETTERS section of your paper dated February 24, 2012, I would like to make some response to clear the air and set the record straight.
This piece of writing mentions China and colonialism in the same breath. I don't know who or what the author is and on whose behalf he/she speaks for, but I know so well that, in this world, there is absolutely no such thing as love or hatred without any reason. Since he/she goes so far as to miss the "good old days" of colonialism, I can understand why he/she is so unhappy with the new type of cooperative partnership between China and Africa. What a pity that those days are gone and will never return.
Look at the China-Africa relations. What we have here is a partnership based on equality, mutual respect and mutual benefits, which has brought tangible benefits to both peoples. This partnership was witnessed by the milestone project of the Tanzania-Zambia railway in the 1970s when sixty-nine Chinese engineers and workers sacrificed their lives for the construction of this project. It is also testified by the recently accomplished AU Conference Center project in Addis Ababa, another magnificent monument of China-Africa pragmatic cooperation.
Just to mention a few facts and figures for the China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. In the trade area, China-Africa trade volume jumped from US $ 12 million in 1950 to US $ 129.6 billion and US $ 160 billion in 2010 and 2011 respectively, which means that China has become Africa's largest trading partner. In terms of investment, with an accumulated total investment of US $40 billion, including US14.7 billion direct investment, Africa has become China's important overseas investment destination. In the last 50 years and more, China has built more than 900 economic development projects of schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, water supply and other livelihood and infrastructure projects for the African countries, among which more than 3300 kilometers of high-ways and 2200 kilometers of railways were constructed. At the same time, China has also sent a large number of agricultural experts, medical teams and young volunteers, and has helped train 30,000 people of different professions from African countries, greatly improving the quality of human resources and raising the social and economic development levels of Africa. China has become Africa's important partners in development aid. With these indelible, outstanding achievements for the China-Africa cooperation, any exercise of selective memory or practice of ostrich policy would become extremely preposterous.
On China-Africa energy and resources cooperation, some clarifications would be necessary. Firstly, China-Africa cooperation covers wide-ranging areas, which go far beyond that of resources and has reached such sectors as infrastructure, education, public health, telecommunications etc.. For a long time till the present, the export markets of the African energy and other resources are found mainly in Western countries, while China has a very limited market share. Moreover, China occupies a very small percentage in foreign investment in Africa while the Western investment takes the lion's share. According to a report released by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a US think tank, for the year 2009, China's investment in the African mining industry only registered 29% of its total investment in Africa, while that of the US took up 60% of its FDI in Africa. China has invested in almost all African countries and its investment in the African resource-rich countries since 2003 only accounted for 37% of its total investment in Africa, while those major western countries' investment are mostly confined to the resource-rich countries.
Secondly, it is nothing wrong or inappropriate that China and Africa do business in an equitable and fair way through negotiations according to common international practice. At present world, there is an interesting phenomenon that whatever China buys, the price goes up. So China provides a good alternative for African countries to sell a better price for their resources or products. While China acquired some resources from African countries, it also helped them with infrastructure construction badly needed in their economic development.
Thirdly, when working with the resource-rich countries, China never neglects those poor and small countries including the Kingdom of Lesotho. Over the years, China has been enhancing cooperation with these countries through official assistance by practising a support policy to help them. Among the 50 African countries which enjoy diplomatic relations with China, you can find none without cooperation project provided by China.
On the issue of "loan for resources or infrastructure", it is true that China has conducted full-scale "loan for infrastructure" cooperation with some resource-rich countries. The reason is simple: these countries take advantage of their resources for the improvement of their infrastructure, for the development of their national economy and peoples' livelihood. What's wrong with that? By so doing, they can otherwise avoid heavy burden of indebtedness. Further more, China provides most preferential loans to the developing countries in Africa.
On the employment of Chinese workers, yes, it is undeniable that most of the Chinese companies in Africa would bring with them some Chinese technical personnel and skilled workers. The main reasons, I think, are: firstly, these projects actually need them from technical point of view; secondly, they are widely acknowledged to be relatively more competitive, which would help reduce the time and cost of the project; thirdly, compared with the western companies, most of the Chinese companies are "new comers" in the international market, they are not used to or familiar with the management of the local or foreign employees, owing to language barrier and so on. But, as a matter of fact, with the time goes by, more and more Chinese enterprises in Africa, particularly those big ones, have been paying special attention to the employment of local workers and are stepping up their efforts in training the local labour force. Big Chinese enterprises in Africa boasts a localization rate of 60%~90%, and some even reached 99%. At present, there are more than 2000 Chinese enterprises in Africa, providing nearly 400,000 jobs for African people. Of course, it is advisable that African governments should also find effective ways of upgrading the quality of the Africa labour force in order to suit the urgent demand of the robust development of China-Africa cooperation.
As for the issue of Chinese aid without political condition and China's relations with some African countries, it has been China's consistent foreign policy to respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations and not to interfere in other countries' internal affairs. These also are principles of UN Charter and basic norms governing international relations. China respects the right of the people of other countries to choose their own path of development and will never impose its own will on others, and is dedicated to peaceful settlements of international conflicts. This is why China never attaches any political strings to its foreign aid. China's policy is also to safeguard the fundamental and long term interest of the developing countries. If this is to blame China for "not caring about human rights", it is a sheer nonsense. Yes, those who are feverishly clamoring for interference, sanction or "regime change" are not happy with China's policy. But time will tell and make people understand China is correct.
A Chinese common saying goes: "How could a farmer stop planting crops when he heard the mole cricket (an insect pest) crow?" Over the years, despite some manifestations of suspicion, anxiety, envy, or even animosity, the China-Africa cooperation has been developing in a robust fashion and it will continue to forge ahead in the years to come. We have every reason to be confident in its potentials and prospects. With the development of the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership, we can expect more and more bumper harvests in the great endeavor of common development and prosperity.
Thank you for your attention.
Embassy of People's Republic of China
in the Kingdom of Lesotho