A partnership too big to ignore

Relations between China and Africa continue to grow from strength to strength with more focus now being placed on this “new type of strategic partnership” that has become a model for other partnerships to emulate.
Previously considered as just another global arrangement, China-Africa co-operation has opened up vast opportunities for the two parties to achieve sustainable development and transform world affairs. For example, trade between Africa and China has tremendously increased over the past decade, from about US$10 billion in 2000 to more than US$160b in 2011.
With regard to international politics, the two are vigorously using their growing influence in world matters to push for reforms that can ensure that all countries relate on equal footing as opposed to the current scenario where the majority are being dominated by a few powerful nations.
To cope with challenges of economic globalization and socio-political development, the two have also established the Forum on China and Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which has charted the course for the development of both China and Africa.
Addressing Zimbabwean journalists attending a media seminar in Beijing, China last year, leading Chinese experts said China-Africa relations are now too big for anyone to ignore.
As such, it is important for the world to accept and acknowledge the friendship as it is based on mutual trust and respect.
Chinese Vice Minister of Information, Wang Guoqing said it is, however, sad to note that some outsiders such as the Western media are not well informed about the partnership and often try hard to demonize the relationship.
“We know that there are some people who do not like our relationship (China-Africa relations),” he said.
“Although we are geographically far apart from each other, China and Africa share a common interest and we always support each other.”
He urged the two to continue working together in order to push for reforms that benefit all.
Another official, Huang Yon Yi, who is the deputy director-general of China International Publishing Group, said the China-Africa friendship is not new as it dates back many decades.
“China is indebted to Africa in so many ways,” he said. “So, we will not forget our friends. It is natural that we co-operate, work together and support each other no matter the challenge,” he said. Liu Junjie, a senior official with the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China, concurred.
“China and Africa are very good friends,” Liu said. He said as emerging economies, the two must strive to maintain and improve their economic situations for the sake of global peace and stability.
“We are both emerging economies and doing our utmost best to develop our countries,” he said. – sardc.net

• Wei Gu
While Paris, Milan and Hong Kong are well-known to affluent Chinese, some of them are tiring of the usual luxury enclaves.
For them, says Tianyin Shi, group head of China for Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management group, Africa awaits.
“I first went to Africa in 2011 and liked it so much that I booked the next trip for 2012 right in the airport lounge,” Shi says. She and her husband count Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia among their recent trips.
Africa is still off the beaten path for most wealthy Chinese, but the continent appeals to a growing number of them, she says. South Africa is one example.
It saw more than 60 000 Chinese visits in the first half of 2012, a 68 percent jump from the same period a year earlier, according to the South African Tourism Ministry.
China has already overtaken France as the country’s fourth-largest overseas market.
These new Chinese travelers don’t sight-see in packs or while away the vacation at the mall — they are more likely to get private tours and embrace the safari opportunities, says Shi.
“The scenery in Africa is so different from that of China, and in certain more remote areas, there are very few people,” she adds. “You feel like you’re away from the rest of the world, which is relaxing.”
Many of them first discover Africa during business trips. China’s direct investments in Africa jumped to US$15 billion in 2011 from less than US$100 million in 2003, and by 2009, China had replaced the US as Africa’s largest trade and investment partner, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.
Compared with Latin America, Africa is closer to home, about 12 hours by plane from Beijing or Shanghai.
Once there,  Shi says, Africa’s upscale safari camps and private jets play to Chinese tastes for luxury tourism, as does its focus on nature and scenery over historic attractions.
“We go out during sunrise and sunset to watch animals. After a few days your eyes get trained and it becomes easy to spot them,” she says.
Once, she made a few seconds of eye contact with a lion as her jeep passed by — “but I wasn’t afraid at all,” she says.
“It is their world. We’re just observers.”
On their first trip, Shi and her family were a rare enough sight in Africa that hoteliers told them about previous Chinese visitors.
While in Namibia last year, however, she dscovered that a friend was nearby — via Weixin, a Chinese social-networking app. – Wall Street Journal

March 2013
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