New starting point for China-Africa cooperation

2015-12-04 10:01Xinhua Editor: Mo Hong'e

China and Africa, which have much in common and show mutual supports for each other on many international and regional issues, will soon see a fresh stage in their cooperation.[Special coverage]

The two-day summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg starting on Friday is destined to usher in a new era for cooperation between the vast African continent craving for development and its remote friend in East Asia.

The two sides will jointly chart the course of cooperation within the next three years, with an aim to accelerate Africa's industrialization process and help Africa achieve sustainable development, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in talks with his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma on Wednesday.

Unlike the West's investment structure, which for decades has deprived Africa of real economic independence, China brings to the forum plans to help the continent with industrialization, food security, public health and disease prevention.

Africa is a continent the Chinese people is both familiar with and fond of, Xi said at a welcoming banquet on Thursday for the dozens of leaders attending the FOCAC summit.

The Chinese president expounded the concept of "sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith" in a speech in Tanzania during his maiden trip to Africa in March 2013 after taking office.

The concept has actually served as the backbone of China's assistance to the African continent in decades before it was clearly defined by Xi.

China has provided African countries with loans worth more than 20 billion U.S. dollars since 2012 to support infrastructure, investment, small and medium-sized enterprises, agriculture and manufacturing.

It has never attached political conditions to assistance, nor does it constrain or interfere in the domestic affairs of African countries.

The beaten track of past major powers was discarded and the changes brought over by Chinese assistance can be seen across the continent.

Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, where Western companies such as Royal Dutch Shell have been drilling for decades, has no oil production and processing system of its own so far. Nigerians have to face the awkward situation of exporting crude oil and importing petroleum.

In contrast, Sudan, where China has helped build oil pipelines and refineries, boasts its own complete oil industrial system.

"China's assistance to Africa is part of the mutual supports among the developing nations, or what we called South-South mutual assistance, which is fundamentally different from aids from the West," said Li Zhibiao, a senior research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Africa has for a long time been getting unfavorable conditions from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These include tariffs which have been passed on through Western aid which is not in the interest of Africa," said Ralph Mathekga, the head of political economy at Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, a South African think tank.

"China has surplus capital, cash and experience in infrastructure and finance to liberate Africa from the Western financial institutions," Mathekga said.

China is expected to unveil a "package of cooperation proposals" at the Johannesburg meeting, which will help African countries upgrade industrial structure, safeguard food security and build infrastructure.

Both the Chinese and the African people are striving for their respective dreams, and the two sides, with their development strategies highly compatible, have both the need and the resources to expand cooperation for common development, Xi said on Thursday.

The Johannesburg summit will be a "milestone" in China-Africa ties and trade cooperation, as Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming put it before the forum.

Qian said China will set up funds and give African countries more low-interest bank loans.

Africa has always been cherished as "the foundation of the foundation" in Chinese diplomacy, and the summit would show the strength of developing countries' cooperation.

Their win-win cooperation to be earnestly pushed forward by both sides will not only benefit their combined population of over 2.4 billion, but also set an example for South-South exchanges and relations between different regions and nations.



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