Who is not dealing with China?
Senior Chinese officials and scholars attending a global conference in china have said it is “unfair and deceitful” for some Western countries to condemn the China-Africa partnerships yet the same countries are actively working with China to develop their own economies.
Scholars from China and Africa are attending an International Conference on African Agriculture, Rural Development and Sino-Africa Cooperation, which opened on September 21 in Nanjing, China.
“There is something wrong with the world we live in today,” Prof Liu Chengfu said.
“China is cooperating with virtually everyone, and when we deal with European countries or America, then the relationship is normal and okay.
“However, when we cooperate with Africa, the partnership is suddenly viewed with suspicion.”
Prof Liu is vice director of the China Society for Africa Studies at Nanjing University.
He said despite a blooming relationship that has seen trade between Africa and China increase exponentially over the past decade, the Sino-Africa partnership continues to receive negative attention from some western countries, and China’s increasing engagement with Africa is often portrayed as prowling the resource-rich continent.
Yet one of the major milestones of Sino-Africa cooperation is that Africa is rapidly gaining recognition on the global market.
Furthermore, research shows that, compared to many years of African engagement with Europe and America, the Sino-Africa relations have yielded more benefits more quickly.
Prof Liu said China and Africa need to work together in addressing this misconception, perpetrated by those who “feel threatened” by this blossoming relationship.
The Director of the Department of African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lin Songtian, concurred, saying it is sad to note that some developed countries do not want to consider Africa as an equal partner in the global market.
Rather, they want Africa to remain on the periphery as a source of raw materials and not a manufacturer of finished goods.
“Africa will not be politically independent if it continues to rely on aid,” he said, adding that it is for this reason that China does not offer aid but is interested in fostering a win-win partnership that is based on mutual trust and respect.
He said Africa has the capacity to become a major player on the international stage, and China stands ready to assist the continent to achieve its developmental goals.
These goals can be achieved by boosting agricultural production, he said, as the sector has a greater capacity than most industries such as tourism to be a lynchpin for socio-economic development, mainly because investment in agriculture benefits the people directly, especially poor people, of whom a significant number are farmers on the continent.
“Africa is gifted with numerous resources such as land, water, good climate and labour force to feed itself,” said Ambassador Lin, who is a former ambassador to Liberia and Malawi.
“China is willing to share experiences with Africa on how to transform its agriculture sector.” He urged Africa to invest more in infrastructure development, including road and rail, to ensure the smooth movement of farm produce, services and people across the region.
There is also need for the continent to increase the use of irrigation, technology and research to boost production.
Zimbabwe’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Christopher Mutsvangwa, recently chided the West for losing opportunities in the Southern African Development Community region in general and Zimbabwe in particular while negatively viewing the growing role of China in the region.
Mutsvangwa was making presentation titled “Zimbabwe’s Agenda for SADC: Regional and International Priorities” at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House in London on September 16.
Harare assumed the chairmanship of the SADC regional bloc last month.
Mutsvangwa said since the British influence and capital had ushered Southern Africa into the era of the modern nation state, London had ample chance to play a constructive role in the SADC region. He said instead of being negative about China’s role in SADC, Britain should embrace this as a good development, which broadens and deepens the environment of business.
China is playing a significant role in building infrastructure, providing capital, technical expertise and management acumen in SADC and other African regions. Other BRICS nations and emerging economies are also participating in SADC economies together with the traditional partners.
“Courtesy of history, you the British have the ‘software’ while the Chinese now have the ‘hardware’ to unlock the value of SADC’s primary resources and help launch the sub-region onto the escalator of the global economy and international business. Let not grudges and tiffs stand in the way of this grand opening. Families have their tiffs. Virtue comes in how you shunt them aside and get back to business. SADC is replete with exciting opportunities,” said Mutsvangwa.
Last week, United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, conceded that Washington was playing second fiddle to China and other Asian Tigers in seizing economic opportunities in Zimbabwe. This followed the mega multi-million dollar infrastructure development and mining deals Harare recently signed with China and Russia.
Ambassador Lin said another major issue for Africa is to co-opt youths and women in agriculture development, since these make up the majority population in the region.
The International Conference on African Agriculture, Rural Development and Sino-Africa Cooperation (CAARDSAC), which runs from September 21-28, aims to create a platform for better communication and scholarly exchange among Chinese and African researchers.
Some 20 researchers from Africa are participating in the conference, which coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the Centre of African Studies of Nanjing University (CASNJU).
CASNJU was established in 1964 and has played an important role in promoting African studies in China. – Sardc/Southern Times Writer