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  Home > Exchanges and Dialogues > Exchanges between Localities
China-Africa Cooperation Continues to Grow: China's Influence in Africa Unprecedented
2016/03/23

Source: xinhuanet.com

China is enjoying unprecedented influence in Africa today along with the launch of numerous massive programs and rapid growth of the trade. Over the past years, China’s volume of trade with and investment in Africa has seen swift upswing, jumping from US$10 billion to US$220 billion, making the China-Africa cooperation mode exemplary.

The South Africa Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) closed in December 2015 with the deepening of China-Africa friendship remaining core of China’s Africa policy. With rapid economic growth, China will eventually become the largest economy in the world, overtaking the United States, one day. Playing a big country’s role with firm confidence in Africa, China has made herself into the most important investor on the continent.

Along with the launch of a number of huge programs and rapid growth of the trade, China is witnessing unprecedented influence in Africa today.

To boost cooperation with Africa, China put forward the FOCACinitiative in 2000 and since then her influence over the continenthas risen rapidly. China-Africa ties are built on the basic principles of: “Sincerity, Friendship, Equality, Mutual Benefit, Unity, Cooperation and Common Development”.

Over the years, China’s investment in Africa has seen speedygrowth, shooting from US$10 billion in the beginning to US$220 billion today. According to reports, there are at least 2,000 Chinese companies having stakes in Africa, investing in sectors ranging from electronics, mining, agriculture, ICT, telecommunications, infrastructure, media, finance to transportation.

China has also participated in quite a number of the mostspectacular programs underway in Africa, the Mombasa-Kigali StandardGauge Railway Project being one of the examples. As an important part of the Project, the Mombasa- Nairobi section that links up the Mombasa Port and Nairobi, capital of Kenya, 472 km in length, is expected to be completed in 2017 and will eventually extend to Uganda and Rwanda.

The Mombasa-Nairobi line has already created 25,000 jobs for Kenya and, when completed, it will save up to 40% of the transportation cost, raising the region’s competitiveness. It has also built up a platform of technology transfer and competencetraining, conducive to the region’s industrialization process. As the first part, two technical training schools have been launched in Kenya.

Pundits agree that the Mombasa-Nairobi rail line will boost trade and investment in East Africa and other areas, contributing tospeeding up regional integration, which is an important agenda that the Kenyan government has been pushing over the years.

To enable Africa’s construction capacity, privately and publically owned Chinese firms have offered training opportunities to over 30,000 Kenyan employees to follow technical training programs in numerous prominent Chinese institutions since 2012. Moreover, some 15,000 students received scholarships to pursue higher education in 2013 and 2014.

In addition, Africa’s health issue has been the top concern of the Chinese government. 43 Chinese medical teams composed of 1,771 medical professionals have been dispatched to 42 African countries since 2012. When Ebola broke out in the West African countries, for instance Libya, China responded quickly by sending four rounds of emergency aid totaling US$110 million.

To achieve inclusive growth, China, together with Africa, has launched the China-Africa People-to-People Friendship Action Plan, China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Program and China-AfricaThink-tank 10 + 10 Partnership Initiative that have largely advanced the people-to-people exchanges between the two sides.

The above said programs have drawn nearly 300 young volunteers from China to serve in some 20 African countries.

On top of that, amongst the substantial numbers of outbound Chinese tourists, more than 3 million chose Africa as the first leg of their overseas tours in 2012.

To advance economic growth, China is increasingly taking Africa as her important energy and raw material supply source while opening up new markets for her products. For that, China is attachingprogressively greater importance to the development of China-Africa relations.

Nonetheless, along with production reduction and trade slowdown, the commodity prices are affected. For some time, the economic growth in some African countries that are heavily reliant on petroleum, like Nigeria, Angola and Ghana, is experiencing a noticeable deceleration.However, the affected countries have made the strategy of economicdiversification to better cope with the external impact.

Therefore, Africa is increasingly focusing on how the continuous growth of China-Africa ties may help enhance the legal and regulatory framework, which is not only conducive to pushing for revitalization of the long sluggish manufacturing sector but also internal trade in Africa, a goal many a expert have been pursuing. Furthermore, the plan to relocate Chinese factories to Africa is also to be put on the agenda.

Despite of obstacles, China-Africa relations will continue to grow and deepen, as China has the faith that Africa’s development is beneficial for making a better world.

The author: Dennis Munene, Researcher of the Africa Policy Institute

China Development Bank Pushes China-Africa Financial Cooperation Program together with Chinese Firms

China Development Bank (CDB), China-Africa Development Fund Co. (AFDF) and China Nonferrous Metal Mi ning Corp. (CNMC) signed a special agreement on Mid-South Africa Regional Financial Cooperation at Lusaka, capital of Zambia, on 8 March 2016.

The signing of the deal is a concrete step in implementing the China-Africa 10 Cooperation Plans Program and China-Africa Capacity Cooperation taken by the trio, which agreed to enter into a “finance + industry” partnership in Mid-South Africa to further boost the mature domestic technologies, advanced equipment and smelting capacities’ “Outreach” drive.

Representatives of the three companies announced that they would, centering on the important partners like Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, venture into all-out cooperation in mineral resources development, cooperation-park construction and external project contracting on the basis of the “13th Five-Year Plan” and Mid-South Africa Regional Development Strategy of each. Leveraging combined and coordinated strengths in investment and loan making, respectively, the CDB and AFDF will offer all-inclusive financial services ranging from bank advance, equity investment, bond underwriting to financial consultation to the CNMC.

Yang Youming, Chinese Ambassador to Zambia, said in a speech that, with a broad prospect for development shared between China and Zambia, it was hoped that, through cooperation between the (Chinese) financial institutions and leading industrial players in Zambia and leveraging the integrated industry-finance egde, the China-Africa Comprehensive Strategic Partnership will be enhanced, China-Zambia economic and trade cooperation further promoted and China-Zambia friendship elevated.

Since the launch of development of the Chambishi Copper Mines inZambia in 1998, the CNMC today has stakes in nearly 20 companies in the Mid-South Africa region, which employ nearly 10,000 local workers, enjoying high repute and widespread influence amongst the local governments and populations.

The CDB is a totally Chinese government owned financial institution and has served the national strategy in a market-based way, having provided support to the international operation and cross-nation capacity cooperation of the domestic companies over theyears.

The CADF is a CDB totally owned subsidiary and the first-ever direct equity investment fund dedicated to making investments in Africa.

Promote China-Africa Understanding through Inventive Cultural Exchange Approach

Since retiring from his former offices of deputy director general and editor in chief of the Foreign Languages Publishing & Distributing Administration, Mr. Huang Youyi, CPPCC delegate, has more time to participate in international seminars and workshops to inform other countries about China and Chinese policies. What left him the deepest impression are two China related international events he took part last September, one a think-tank forum in Europe and the other a book review in South Africa, through which he spotted obviousdivergence of points of interest on China in the developed and developing worlds.

“At the think-tank forum in Europe, they were mainly concerned with the economic reshuffling and South China Sea issue while at the South Africa book review, I fielded more specific questions, such as how China was handling corruption and how senior officials reached out to the grassroot”, Huang observes. “They (the South Africans) are more concerned with the livelihood issues and China’s development, in the hope of drawing inspirations from our development experiences.”

He also notices that, though China-Africa relations have seen rapid growth since the beginning of the new millennium, further efforts should be made to expand the cultural exchange and people-to-people understanding channels between the two sides. “For China, it requires improving our external publicity capacity and it is quite urgent”, Huang emphasizes.

Premier Li Keqiang also pointed out emphatically the need to deepen cultural exchange between China and the world and enhance our international publicity capacity in the Government Work Report 2016.“Despite there is just one sentence in his Report, for us, the importance of external publicity capacity construction can never beoverstated”, Huang declares, “because not only the foreign audiences need to understand China, China also needs to make herself clear.”

In recent years, the Chinese government has promoted cultural exchanges and people-to-people understanding with other countriesthrough all means, as China and South Africa organized “Year of China” and “Year of South Africa” on each other’s territory in year 2014-2015, and the opening ceremony of “Year of Culture” was held in China and Egypt respectively in January 2016, with the cultural exchange events having largely advanced people-to-peopleunderstanding.

Huang considers, in spite of the close economic ties betweenChina and Africa over the years, the momentum of economic exchange cannot sustain without quality cultural exchanges, as more economic interactions require more cultural awareness. Being a form of people-to-people communications of the minds, only mutual cultural appreciation can authentically enhance understanding and friendshipbetween the peoples. “The African culture is unique and liked by many Chinese whilst the Chinese culture is also highly varied, which should be presented to Africa” Huang says, “and we must keep a sense of equality in the process.”

For him, to develop language service is an important part of the external publicity capacity construction. “As China’s economy needs to reach out, for instance the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative put forward, and, as the Chinese firms are venturing out, it means they will bring the Chinese culture across. Nevertheless, one cannot expect all foreigners to speak Chinese or the Chinese firms to be able to communicate in foreign languages. That’s why language service is needed”, Huang continues. In the Big Data Era, purelyhuman effort is not enough for the language service, which wouldrequire machines and the involvement of all kinds of apps.

However, Huang admits that the understanding for the importance of language service in society is lacking. “Many companies find themselves lost abroad as they didn’t conduct dedicated research and investigation into the local cultural background, legal framework and traditions because they never knew language service could have helped. The users are not aware of where to find such a service. Language service can only play its role when it is used. The more it is used, the faster it grows”, he explains.

Huang visits Africa frequently to take part in various events along with the rise of the “Africa Fever” in China over the past years, hence comes his opinion on the impact of China’s economic slowdown on Africa:

“Despite the global economy is integral and change in any one place affects another, China’s economy and Africa’s are mutually complementary and, therefore, China’s slowdown may not necessarilymean an African sluggishness”, he observes.

At the moment, China is conducting capacity cooperation with Africa. The China-Africa relations were elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership at the Johannesburg Summit of FOCAC in late 2015 and it was announced that China-Africa industrialization cooperation was put on the top of the China-Africa 10 Cooperation Plans Program.

“China-Africa industrialization cooperation is not aimed to shift China’s redundant and polluting capacity to Africa because we can never do that. However, as massive economic construction is underway in Africa, when the concrete they need is locally produced instead of being imported, it will increase local employment and boost the locals’ income. As China is reducing her concrete production capacity, mutual complementation thus comes into form”, Huang notes.

China-Africa Cooperation: Exemplary of Genuine Collaboration

Over the years, the mode of China-Africa cooperation can be said exemplary. China-Africa trade amounting US$220 billion in 2014, it may breach the US$300-billion mark in 2015. The figure fully showcases the vigor of China-Africa cooperation, which will continue to deepen and broaden into all areas.

As a developing country, long before China’s economy came to today’s magnitude, particularly becoming the second largest, she was pushing for cooperation between the two sides, as the Chinese and African leaders always attach great importance to the special cooperation of sincerity on the basis of mutual respect, mutual benefit and win-win result.

Africa’s items of import from China are mainly handiworks,construction materials, furniture, cosmetics and garments, amongothers, and China primarily imports petroleum, precious stones, wood and other raw materials from Africa.

Ethiopia, Tanzania and South Africa are role models in the China-Africa industrialization cooperation. The China-Africa 10-Cooperation Plans Program was initiated in December 2015, which will promote China-Africa industrialization cooperation into further breadth and with greater animation as it is implemented.

The US$60-billion program covers multiple sectors, consisting of agricultural modernization, infrastructure construction, industrialization, executive/employee education and training, environment protection and tourism, among others.

Moreover, the Chinese government also offers peace keeping andsecurity aid to Africa, as it was announced that China would provide US$60 million aid to the African Union to improve its peace keepingcapacity in the continent.

(For reproduction, please specify the source: twwtn.com)

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