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  Home > Academic Exchanges > Scholar Interaction
China-Africa Think Tanks: The Way Ahead
2012/01/12

Source: Africa MagazineDate: 2011-12-9

 

The 1st conference of the China-Africa Think Tank Forum hosted by Zhejiang Normal University was held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, on October 27th.

As a high-level platform for China-Africa academic exchanges whose founding was approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Commerce of China, the Forum offers a bridge for linking up important ideas of Chinese and African elites. The China-Africa Think Tank Forum is incorporated by the Foreign Ministry into the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) as a regular mechanism for civil dialogues between China and Africa which will be held alternatively in China and Africa once a year.

China-Africa Think Tanks: The Way Ahead

Project Designers: Zhou Lei, Ri Yao, Meng Yong, Mi Xue, Xu Zhenghong


China-Africa Think Tanks: Promoting China-Africa Relations and Cooperation

 

At the 1st Conference of China-Africa Think Tank Forum held in Hangzhou and Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, from October 27th to 29th, 2011, representatives from renowned think tanks of China and 27 African states, the African Union and other African regional organizations as well as from other parts of the world, entrepreneurs and former political heavyweights conducted in-depth discussions on China-Africa relations in the second decade of the 21st century, reached extensive consensus, and released a Declaration.

It is pointed out in the Declaration that think tanks and academics of China and Africa should make joint efforts to promote dialogues between different cultures and increase consensus between South and South, South and North, and East and West to make our world more harmonious, peaceful and safer.

 

Think Tank Forum: Shared Platform for China-Africa Dialogues and Exchanges

 

It is pointed out in the Declaration that the China-Africa Think Tank Forum should become a shared platform and regular mechanism for dialogues and exchanges between think tanks of the two sides. With the purpose of letting "people-to-people exchanges play the major role with participation from the government and candid dialogues to accumulate consensus", the Forum will actively bring together think tanks of Africa and China and scholars from other parts of the world who care about China-Africa relations to "conduct dialogues, exchanges and discussions on African economic and political situation, China-Africa relations and other related topics so as to increase understanding, expand consensus, consolidate friendship, offer suggestions and enhance the role of China-Africa think tanks in promoting bilateral cooperation on all fronts."

 

The conference was themed on "China-Africa relations in the second decade of the new millennium". The participants reviewed China-Africa relations in the past decade, analyzed problems and challenges facing China-Africa relations and looked ahead at the prospects and room for innovation for bilateral relations in the coming decade. In-depth discussions were also conducted on three sub-topics, namely, Africa's security situation and China-Africa cooperation in peace and security, Africa's financial and investment environment and China-Africa cooperation in finance and investment, and the role of China-Africa cultural exchanges and think tanks.

 

China and Africa established mechanisms for long-term cooperation following the founding of FOCAC in 2000, which has propelled bilateral relations into a period of comprehensive and fast development. At the same time, as China-Africa relations has gone into greater depth, many new problems and challenges have arisen in bilateral cooperation.

 

President Wu Fengmin of Zhejiang Normal University believed that it was of great significance to gather people from the academic, political and business communities of China and Africa to discuss bilateral relations in the coming decade and issues related to security, trade and exchanges between think tanks in the first year of the second decade of the 21st century.

 

Both China and Africa boast splendid ancient civilizations and colorful cultural traditions. Over the years, China and Africa have respected each other, treated each other as equals, and helped one another, thus providing an exemplary model of different cultures coexisting peacefully, various traditions drawing on each other's strength and varied cultures seeking common development. At the Beijing Summit of FOCAC in 2006, Chinese and African leaders agreed upon building a new type of strategic partnership featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchanges, thus uplifting cultural exchanges to a level on a par with political and economic cooperation.

 

Vice-minister Zhai Jun of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the setup of the China-Africa Think Tank Forum is one of the important measures to strengthen academic exchanges and cooperation, and expand cultural exchanges between China and Africa. Based on it, Premier Wen Jiabao made the initiative of implementing the "China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Program" at the 4th Ministerial Meeting of FOCAC in 2009, which opened the door for enhancing exchanges and cooperation among academics and think tanks and promoting cultural exchanges.

 

Zhai suggested that Chinese and African academic institutions and scholars have made a good start of the Forum by further integrating their research resources and making the Forum a regular mechanism of an international nature, facilitating more inclusive, open and stable cooperative relations between academics of China, Africa, and other regions and building up a regular platform for academic exchanges with far-reaching influence.

 

According to Liu Guijin, special envoy for African affairs of the Chinese government and president of the China-Africa Business School of Zhejiang Normal University, the China-Africa Think Tank Forum has been incorporated into the FOCAC framework by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As a regular mechanism for civilian dialogues between China and Africa, it will be held in China and Africa alternatively once every year.

 

Think Tank Cooperation: The Historical Reasons and Real Needs

 

It was believed by the specialists and scholars present at the event that in the process of in-depth and continuous development of China-Africa cooperation, cooperation between think tanks is a natural necessity. President Yang Jiemian of Shanghai Institute for International Studies said that in an increasingly complicated world, China and Africa need to improve their strategic thinking via think tanks more than any time in history in their efforts to grasp the historical trends and promote modernization.

 

As countries and continents with the biggest potentials for development, China and Africa have witnessed institutionalized cooperation between them starting from scratch and having entered a period of fast development, their cooperation in various areas expanding rapidly, and attracting wide global interest.

 

Wu believed that despite the expanding exchanges between the academic circles between China and Africa in recent years, bilateral exchanges between think tanks are far from enough, with many exchanges being temporary, confined to small scopes, with few participants and the qualities yet to be improved. Faced with unfounded accusations and criticisms on China-Africa relations from the West, Chinese and African scholars are often incapable of leading the discussion, managing only to cope passively.

 

Studies show that Chinese and African think tanks have much more cooperation with their Western counterparts than between themselves and that they are deeply influenced by Western theories, concepts and discourses. Chinese and African think tanks have all the reason to help each other, cooperate for greater strength, conduct more academic exchanges, engage in the "two-track diplomacy", and carry out joint conferences and research projects to make themselves bigger, stronger and more substantial.

 

It was pointed out at the conference that major progress has been made in the contemporary renaissance of developing countries. Mankind is at a crossroad with brighter prospects but also more severe challenges. As two ancient civilization systems, China and Africa enjoy long history and rich cultures. As a result, think tank exchanges between China and Africa become all the more important.

 

The Declaration released at the conference points out that realizing peace, security and stability is the prerequisite for Africa's development. Having entered into the new millennium and peace and security situation in Africa improved markedly, some regions and countries have seen worsening situation and new problems and challenges, however. In this area China and Africa should strengthen cooperation and China should play a more active role in peace and security building in Africa.

The Declaration also mentions that in recent years great achievements have been made in Africa's economic and social development. Seeing great potentials, the international community is increasing financial and investment cooperation with Africa, but the financial and investment environment of Africa needs further improvement. Financial institutions of the two sides should make efforts to support the development of small and medium businesses, increase employment opportunities for Africa, and promote Africa's exports to China so as to make China-Africa cooperation mutually beneficial to achieve win-win results, and deliver benefits to more African people.

 

Mahmood Cheeroo, secretary general of the Association of Industry and Commerce of Mauritius, said that the think tanks can better increase understanding and cooperation between China and Africa. He believed that the Forum was a process of brain storm during which experts and scholars may offer a lot of meaningful suggestions.

 

Yang Jiemian believed that as a promoting mechanism for China-Africa cooperation, think tank cooperation has its special historical mission and should make unique contributions in line with the features of our era in terms of strategic thinking, policy planning, theoretical innovation and institutional construction so as to make China-Africa cooperation more spontaneous, scientific and effective.

 

Think Tanks' Mission: Promoting China-Africa Relations Vigorously

 

The world now is undergoing great development, changes and readjustment. Both China and Africa are important emerging forces in the global pattern. China-Africa relations have begun to assume more importance, strategic significance and overall impact.

 

Chinese and African scholars should actively engage in dialogues, review theories and practices in bilateral cooperation and increase the impact of Chinese and African thinking. Zhai Jun said that "the era has endowed new missions on China-Africa academic exchanges and raised higher requirements. It is an important question for Chinese and African academics as for how bilateral academic exchanges and cooperation will provide better intellectual support to China-Africa relations and inject new vigor into bilateral cultural exchanges.

 

The founding of FOCAC in 2000 opened a new chapter in China-Africa friendly cooperation. Over the past 11 years, China-Africa relations, under the guidance of FOCAC, has realized comprehensive and rapid development and produced fruitful results, offering rich soil and broad stage for bilateral academic exchanges and cooperation.

 

Since inception in March 2010, the "China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Program" has been productive in supporting international seminars hosted by Chinese and African academic institutions, facilitating studies on important issues concerning African situation and China-Africa relations, and financing two-way visits and exchanges of scholars of the two sides. Chinese and African scholars have shown unprecedented enthusiasm in studies on China-Africa relations and friendship. They have made unique contribution to promoting the development of China-Africa relations with their role of ideological guidance as think tanks.

 

Experts at the conference believed that think tanks of the two sides should play a bigger role in enhancing China-Africa friendship. Zhai Jun believed that think tanks and academics have unique advantages in promoting cultural exchanges with their academic expertise and authority. Scholars of the two sides should value and advocate fine cultural traditions, conduct serious studies on their respective histories and cultures, further strengthen mutual understanding among the people, and facilitate cultural exchanges, mutual learning and common development so as to lay a sound social foundation of popular support for the development of China-Africa relations.

 

Since 2002, under the FOCAC framework, Zhejiang Normal University has undertaken projects of human resources development. It has become a base of foreign assistance through education for the Ministry of Education, and a research base of China's elementary education of the Ministry of Commerce. It organized over 30 seminar courses on African education management for over 600 senior education officials and headmasters of primary and secondary schools from Africa. Last year, Zhejiang Normal University set up the China-Africa Business Institute which was the first to combine training of professionals and personnel with academic researches and business counseling, committed to training "Africa hands" for China and "China hands" for Africa.

 

Wu Fengmin believed that with the implementation of the new strategic partnership between China and Africa and progress in practical bilateral cooperation on all fronts, it has become a pressing task to explore new paths, add new contents and inject new vigor in friendly bilateral cooperation.

 

Zhai Jun said that with the truth-seeking, pragmatic, pioneering and innovative spirit and strategic and overall interests of China-Africa cooperation in mind, think tanks and academics of China and Africa should carry out serious researches on important issues such as how China and Africa can realize greater development amid changes of the international system to make academic exchanges more forward-looking and innovative. They should also enhance in-depth researches in bilateral political, economic, cultural cooperation and cooperation in other specific areas to make academic exchanges more focused and effective to offer suggestions on the new problems and challenges arising in China-Africa relations.

 

African Investment in Post-Financial-Crisis Era

 

The second decade of the new millennium has brought China-Africa investment cooperation to a new juncture, as China has become Africa's largest trading partner, with achievements and problems co-existing. At this juncture, the mechanism of China-Africa cooperation is being continuously improved, but there are still obstacles. At this point, the financial crisis has changed the world situation, as the big powers have entered a period of readjustment. Therefore, it is of great significance to review the past, analyze the existing problems and look to the future.

 

The Past Decade: Rapid Development of China-Africa Cooperation

 

President Yang Jiemian of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies believed that the first decade of the 21st century saw rapid development of China-Africa cooperation and marked successes, which have laid a solid foundation for cooperation in the second decade.

 

The past decade saw the most active people-to-people exchanges and high-level visits. The Ministerial Meeting of FOCAC has become an important platform for collective dialogues between Chinese and African leaders and an effective mechanism for making overall plans for China-Africa relations. In the past decade, China's grants, interest-free loans and preferential credits to Africa have increased markedly, with the results of cooperation benefiting both sides. Bilateral trade volume increased from US$ 10.6 billion in 2000 to US$ 106.8 billion in 2008, with annual growth rate maintaining at over 30%. In 2009, China's FDI to Africa stood at US$ 1440 million, an increase of six folds compared to the year 2000. By the end of 2009, China had forgiven over 300 items of interest-free loans owned by 35 heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries in Africa.

 

The two sides have also conducted practical and effective cooperation in infrastructure, energy, agriculture, finance, medical care and health. Over the past decade, bilateral exchanges in education, science and technology, culture and personnel movement, the China-Africa Legal Forum, China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Program and other cooperative projects have greatly increased mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese and African peoples. Successful cooperation in the first decade has laid a solid foundation for the economic cooperation to become more comprehensive, the political cooperation more mature, and the cultural cooperation more diversified in the second decade.

 

Investment Model: From Concentration to Diversification

 

China-Africa trade relations have expanded rapidly on all fronts and have assumed a multi-layered, wide-ranging and all-inclusive pattern, playing an indispensable role in economic and social development of the two sides. According to data of the Ministry of Commerce, as of 2010, China had established economic and trade relations with 54 countries in Africa, signed bilateral trade agreements with over 40 African states, reached agreements with 25 countries on inter-governmental loans, entered into agreements with over 30 countries on investment incentives and protection and reached agreements with over 20 states on double taxation avoidance. Over 2000 Chinese businesses have made investments in Africa, with projects covering agriculture, mining, processing and manufacturing, infrastructure and logistics. So far, Africa has become the major destination of Chinese businesses in terms of project contracting, labor export as well as setting up overseas factories and investment. The total amount of project and labor contracting reached nearly US$50 billion, with finished business volume exceeding US$30 billion and the total number of Chinese working in Africa at around 100,000 at the peak.

 

Liu Hao, deputy director general of the Department for International Cooperation of China Development Bank, said that for a long period of time the investment of Chinese businesses in Africa concentrated mainly in sectors like energy and mining, but in the past ten years it has become more diversified, with increasing projects in manufacturing, telecommunications and agriculture. Currently, with political and economic situation in Africa having become more stable, Chinese businesses are enjoying greater room for development and huge market potentials for making investment in finance, logistics and sectors related to people's wellbeing.

 

Problems and Difficulties: To Be There for a Long Time to Come

 

Liu Youfa, vice president of China Institute of International Studies, pointed out that major issues of China-Africa investment cooperation are found in the political, economic, business and cultural sectors. At the same time, since China's presence in Africa touches on the traditional spheres of influence of developed countries everywhere at any given time, it encounters unfounded suspicions, accusations and resistance from the relevant countries from time to time. As believed by many experts of African think tanks, these problems and resistance will be there for a long time to come.

 

In the political arena, due to political turmoil, social instabilities, frequent change of government, or inconsistent policies in certain parts of Africa, China's investment interests are seriously affected. At the same time, democracy and politics in Africa has given birth to a new generation of leadership, most of whom are educated in the West and whose understanding of and bond to China wanting improvement. They are eager to see real benefits from their relations with China and have ever increasing expectations from China's investment. Besides, waves of democracy have given rise to some pro-West NGOs and media, which, due to lack of understanding about China or political bias, have indiscriminately quoted or carried reports of Western news agencies, leading to the misunderstanding of some African populace. From economic perspective, due to various reasons, many African states have limited markets, little guarantee of currency stability and high investment risks as a result of high inflation. Investment is also often impeded by complicated land disputes, varying reliability of cooperation partners and transportation and telecommunications constraints. In addition, cultural elements also become obstacles to investment sometimes.

 

A CEO present at the Forum told our reporter that problems with some Chinese businesses investing in Africa are also negative factors affecting investment cooperation. Due to lack of experience in international production and management, limited knowledge about the host country, and language barriers on the part of the Chinese management, Chinese businesses often hesitate in adopting the human resources localization strategy.

 

Building Platforms, Forging Synergy and Seeking Common Development: China Development Bank's African Experiences

 

As a major player in China's overseas investment and financing and in its eighth year of international cooperation with Africa, China Development Bank (CDB) has always implemented the development-oriented financing theory and adopted multiple models, including combining investment with loans and investment with leasing. It has thus played an important role in supporting Chinese businesses to "Go Out" and African businesses to "Come In" and facilitating China-Africa trade, investment cooperation and think tank exchanges. Taking into account the complex economic and political situations of African countries, through the platform of government cooperation, financial cooperation and project cooperation, the CDB has promoted priority projects of shared interests through the synergy of government, banks and businesses and has delivered benefits to both sides and realized common development. Its practices include: first, with the goal of mutual benefit and win-win, long-term cooperation and scientific development in mind, it has helped African countries in solving hot-spot and thorny issues in their economic and social development while improving their capability of independent and sustainable development. Second, following the principle of "making country-specific and continent-specific policies", and focusing on the strategy of "planning first", it has made cooperation more focused and forward-looking. Third, it has promoted smooth implementation of cooperation projects via the existing platforms. Fourth, it has promoted trade and cultural exchanges based on multi-layered cooperation. It has strengthened cooperation with government departments, financial institutions, businesses and academic institutes and has been actively involved in exchanges and training for Africa. Fifth, it has earnestly prevented risks by abiding by market operation rules. It has innovated cooperation paradigms based on market principles and tailored credit structures to local conditions, thus safeguarding loan security and promoting sustainable development of China-Africa trade and financial cooperation. By the end of September this year, the CDB had provided financing of nearly US$7 billion to over 30 African states, with over US$20 billion in follow-up projects, thus playing a positive role in facilitating China-Africa practical cooperation.

 

While supporting industrial and infrastructure development in Africa, the CDB has also paid attention to increasing Africa's "blood-producing" capacity. After the announcement of the eight measures, both old and new, at the FOCAC ministerial meetings, the CDB has set up a China-Africa Development Fund of US$1 billion and a special loan fund of US$1 billion respectively for the development of small and medium sized businesses in Africa. With the financing function of the funds, which have made more gains with less resource, the CDB has guided and supported US$4 billion of investment to Africa by Chinese businesses without adding extra debt burdens to Africa. The SME loan fund has pledged US$632 million, which helped create 1500 job opportunities and contributed to about US$40 million worth of bilateral trade, being instrumental in upgrading the financing capabilities of African SMEs as a whole.

 

Think Tank Exchanges: Pooling of Funds As Well As Wisdoms

 

In the process of deepening and continuous cooperation between China and Africa, think tank cooperation is the historical trend. On the one hand, in this ever changing and more complicated world, to seize on the historical trend and promote modernization, the two sides need to improve their strategic thinking via think tanks more than any time in history. On the other hand, in dealing with enormous domestic and foreign challenges, the two sides need to ensure their decision-making is scientific, viable and effective. To this end, they have to extensively listen to ideas and suggestions from both inside and outside the government. As a link with the potential of leading to strategic policy changes, think tanks can be instrumental. On top of that, while making political, economic and social progresses, China and Africa need to make ideological, theoretical, strategic and policy-making advancement as well. As a result, giving more play to the role of think tanks should be regarded as an important part in the endeavor of getting free from the intellectual control of the West. Finally, think tank building is not only an important part of the efforts in enhancing governance capability of their respective governments, but also an important means to cultivate and retain talents.

China-Africa cooperation needs the pooling of funds, but more importantly, the pooling of wisdoms.

 

Humanistic Consideration for China-Africa Think Tanks

 

It is an important question for Chinese and African academics as for how bilateral academic exchanges and cooperation could better provide intellectual support to China-Africa relations, how to promote economic take-offs through cultural efforts, and provide impetus to improving people's wellbeing and building friendship between the Chinese and African peoples. This also makes it relevant to discuss the humanistic nature of China-Africa think tanks.

 

At the 1st conference of China-Africa Think Tank Forum from October 27th to 29th, 2011, experts and scholars called for giving full play to the humanistic nature of think tanks to propel China-Africa friendly cooperation, increase understanding and expand consensus.

 

China-Africa Cultural Exchanges Need Theoretical Foundation

 

In the new millennium, theoretical research is the foundation for China-Africa cooperation. Theoretical research needs be intensified to show vitality and be translated into big forward looking wisdoms. The academic elites of both sides should take upon themselves the historical responsibilities and missions and continuously improve their theoretical and practical experience in this ever changing and more complicated world situation. They should make efforts to raise the voice of China-Africa thinking, create Chinese and African wisdoms of rich content, and continuously come up with "ideological values" that deliver benefits to societies and peoples.

 

President Yang Jiemian of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies holds the view that China-Africa cooperation needs theoretical innovation. In its long-term cooperation with Africa, China has come up with some time tested theorems, such as sincerity and friendship and treating each other as equals; mutual benefit, reciprocity and shared prosperity; mutual support and close coordination; mutual learning and seeking common development. Yang believes that instead of focusing on bilateral channels as in the past, the two sides need to take a new look at the theories and principles of China-Africa cooperation under the global framework, such as the relations and roles of China and Africa in the reforms of the international system, China and Africa regionalism and their interactions with other regionalism, and common interests and development of China and Africa in the global context.

 

Professor Liu Hongwu, president of the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University, pointed out that Chinese scholars should pay attention to academic issues and fundamental theories that have an impact on African studies and the development of Africa researches in China. They should improve their researches in terms of knowledge structure, subject development and innovative power with the purpose of enhancing their capacity of communicating with their academic and ideological counterparts. Focusing on China-Africa relations, the pivot of China's interactions with the outside world, they should conduct researches on Africa's policy making, role of public opinions, diplomatic interpretations, strategic planning and how to safeguard China's national interests and international image against Western provocations. He also stressed that Chinese scholars, when doing African studies, should not "lose sight of the big picture because of attention to details". Instead, they should proceed from the historical background of national development endeavors, China-Africa cooperation and the rebuilding of Asia-Africa thinking, and come up with theories and epochal conscieousness of an inclusive nature and immerse into the trend of theoretical innovation and knowledge creation of contemporary China. Only in this way can China's African research achieve long-term development that can withstand the test of times.

 

China-Africa Cultural Exchanges Present "Africa Compassion"

 

China and Africa comprise important parts of the developing world. Although bilateral cultural and people-to-people exchanges are in the initial stage and there are many differences between the two sides, their interactions are filled with "wisdom", "care" and "compassion for Africa".

 

These exchanges featuring "equality, friendship, respect and tolerance" have uplifted dialogues of think tanks to a new level. Liu Hongwu said that we should crack the hard nut of Africa development in the light of Chinese wisdom. He believed that Africa must have its own independent thinking and spirit. Elites and indigenous intellectuals should develop the will and capability to have independent thinking about their countries' development paths. Ideas and cultures unique to African states and nations should be boosted and the formation of independent strata of intellectuals and groups of idea management encouraged. African states should also cultivate patriotic spirit to prevent their countries from splitting up. They should also vigorously boost their economies.

 

He said that while carrying out exchanges with African countries, China should take substantive measures to support and assist independent development and capacity building of African think tanks. China will neither engage in Western-style ideological confrontation, nor export its own ideology. However, it may use its experiences and lessons in seeking national renaissance to offer references and comparisons to Africa's difficulties and challenges on its development path and explore wisdom and policy responses to Africa's development problems. China should come up with a long-term and strategic "plan for contemporary Chinese thinking and academic achievements to go abroad" so as to bring China's ideological, educational and academic communities closer to Africa and the developing world, thus gradually increasing the influence of "Chinese thinking, wisdom and experience" in developing countries and the world at large. While keep providing effective economic assistance to African countries, China should also value "soft assistance" to Africa in terms of helping its ideological creativity and academic researches.

 

At the same time, in face of differences between China and Africa in various respects, the two sides need to increase mutual understanding on the cultural level and form new cultural models for cooperation and value systems. Bilateral cultural and people-to-people contacts should also rely on multiple channels. Vice president of the University of Botswana suggested the building of academic frameworks to serve society. She also suggested giving more attention to social problems. She believed that the major objective now is to eradicate poverty and develop trade partners.

 

With the establishment of China-Africa friendship cities and Confucius Institutes and the opening of Shanghai Expo 2010 and the African Pavilion, China-Africa cultural exchanges have gone into greater depth. Still, China and Africa need to intensify cooperation in education, media, movie and publishing to explore and develop more diversified forms of cultural exchange and increase the depth and width of cultural and people-to-people exchanges. More efforts should be made to boost the economy through cultural efforts and inject new vitality into China-Africa cultural industries and cultural tourism.

 

"The Yiwu International Trade City's African Product Exhibition & Sales Center is a testimony to boosting African economy through African cultures and arts", observes Xu Wei, assistant research fellow of the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University, after her two trips to Xintiandi Boutique Museum Africaat Yiwu. "African works of art have great potentials on the Chinese market. It is a positive attempt of distributing cultural commodities. It is the way for more and more consumers of cultural products having a passion for African arts to 'learn about Africa'. With the market for African arts improving, sound interactions will be achieved in the distribution and consumption of Africa arts", said Xu Wei.

 

Uplift China-Africa Values" Soft Power"

 

In the face of the current challenges and crisis, Pang Zhongying, professor of the Institute of International Relations and director for the Center of Global Governance of Renmin University, believed that it is imperative to uplift the soft power of China-Africa values, review China-Africa relations under the new circumstances and seek common solutions.

 

"Is China the answer for Africa, or is Africa the answer for China?" Pang Zhongying queries, believing that China and Africa share common destinies in this uncertain era of global crisis. As a result, the main and long-term objective for China-Africa think tank cooperation should be: provide indigenous solutions to common problems so as to contribute meaningfully to governance at various levels (local, national, regional and global). For example, China's value export is reflected in its assistance to Africa. Values that take care of the entire humanity are not values unique to China. They are reflected in some global campaigns that transcend national borders, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, Green Peace and Doctors without Borders. These inclusive and open organizations conform to the diversity of the world. China's material and humanitarian assistance to Africa is realization of values that take care of the entire mankind.

 

In recent years, with rising status of the African continent on the international arena, the West has constantly peddled ideas such as "China's neo-colonialism" and "China threat". To this purpose, BBC made a documentary series entitled The Chinese Are Coming, which is filled with anti-China sentiments and imperialist undertone."

 

All this runs counter to China's foreign policy on Africa. Pang said that China appreciates the universal value of global governance but is also committed to the values of "oneness of nature and man" and "sustainable development".

 

Luo Jianbo, deputy director of the Office of China's Foreign Policy Research of the Institute of International Strategies of the Central Party School, gave a special account on "China-Africa governance experience". He pointed out that China has always stressed that world development should following diversified and varied paths. China has never been of the view that African states should simply copy China's development experience. Instead, they should seek their development paths in line with their national conditions. China will seek win-win development with Africa on the basis of equality, independence and mutual learning. The concern of some Westerners that China is exporting its development model is totally unfounded. Experience sharing between China and Africa belong to the scope of South-South cooperation and is a result of the strength of unity.

 

He stressed that in the 1960's and 1970's, China and Africa used to make joint efforts in the fight against Western imperialism and colonialism. Since the 1980's and 1990's, the two sides have joint hands in the pursuit of economic development and renaissance. Into the 21st century, we have also begun to strengthen cultural exchanges and share governance experiences. Backwardness is not a permanent status and marginalization is not a destiny. To end the history of marginalization, we need not only political independence, economic development and cultural renaissance but also to hear each other's voice on the international stage.

 

"China-Cameroon education cooperation shows that education assistance can give a strong boost to a country's soft power," said Niu Changsong, director of the Institute of African Education Research of Zhejiang Normal University. The Chinese government began offering scholarships to Cameroon since 1995. In the four years since 2007 when the Chinese Training Center of Zhejiang Normal University formally set up a Confucius Institute, the input of the Chinese government increased from year to year. With China's rising influence in Africa, about 30 to 40 students from Cameroon come to study in China on their own expenses every year. Since 2009, the Zhejiang provincial government has set aside RMB5 million yuan for scholarships to overseas students in China. Students that go back to Cameroon after studying in China have become staunch force promoting friendly relations of the two country, active in political, economic, cultural, educational and other areas. China's education assistance to Cameroon has demonstrated its sound image of a responsible big country, its care about the wellbeing of the African people and its determination to provide African people with public education products.

 

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