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Breathing New Life into China-Africa Cooperation
Post Time: 11/09/2018


      On the afternoon of September 3, the opening ceremony of the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was held at the Great Hall of the People. Chinese and African leaders gathered in Beijing for talks on how to work together toward an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. The Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University (IASZNU) also focused on the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit and published a series of articles.      Reference News, Global Times, Guangming Daily, and Zhejiang Daily published articles on the summit, including Dean Liu Hongwu’s “Strategic Value and Significance of Sino-African Cooperation” andThe Logic and Mission of Chinas Foreign Aid”; Doctor Hodan Osman Abdi’s “The Expectations of African Friends”; Doctor Liu Qinghai’s “The Path for a Higher Level of China-Africa Cooperation”; Doctor Xu Wei’s “Build an Even Stronger Community with Shared Future”; and Professor Wang Heng’s “China and Africa Need Each Other to Intensify the Exchange of Experiences and Mutual Learning”.

      On September 2, just before the Beijing Summit, Doctor Michael (Ehizuelen Michael Omoruyi), a Nigerian scholar at IASZNU, published “The Belt and Road Initiative: Breathing Life into China-Africa” on China Pictorial, describing the positive influence that the Belt and Road had upon African nations and his expectations for the results of the FOCAC Beijing Summit.


Published in China Pictorial on September 2, 2018, the full text reads as follows:


The Belt and Road Initiative: Breathing New Life into China-Africa Cooperation

      More than a decade ago, a bright November morning witnessed the opening of the first formal China-Africa summit in Beijing, officially referred to as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). This year, the meeting has come at a time when China is celebrating four decades of its reform and opening up. The meeting provides an opportune time for Chinese and African leaders to deepen cooperation with one another under the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

      The fact that China is sharing its amazing experience of industrialization and development over the past four decades with the rest of the world is a key element to its success. China lifted hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty, as attested by such institutions as the World Bank, through investments in urban and rural infrastructure projects and mega-projects in transportation, water, and power. This is an unparalleled achievement that can be replicated in Africa.

      The Belt and Road Initiative, a vehicle that calls for spurring regional connectivity, is breathing new life into China-Africa cooperation by strengthening consensus and friendship and by promoting infrastructural development in Africa. The Initiative has expanded China-Africa cooperation to broader frontiers such as trade, infrastructure, skills transfer, sports, tourism, medicine, technical management, and scientific research. The Initiative has enabled Chinese investments and loans in Africa to give priority to the construction of infrastructure, as in the case of Kenya’s monumental Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway.

      Recently, the Initiative has also helped propel bilateral trade between China and Africa. For example, China Customs statistics show that China-Africa trade was “off to a flying start” of US$170 billion in 2017, a year-on-year increase of 14%. Furthermore, trade volumes between Chinese and African economies reached US$116 billion in the first seven months of 2018, a year-on-year increase of 18.7%.

      China launched a new multilateral financial institution—the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which was formally established in late 2015—to help low- and middle-income economies pay for infrastructural improvements, such as new roads and power lines to rural villages. China also enlisted the help of other emerging economies, including Brazil and South Africa, to establish a development bank of their own, similar to the World Bank and the IMF. Furthermore, China is increasingly investing in African countries through aid, loans, and direct investment.

      What’s important is how African economies will continue to strategize to leverage the Belt and Road Initiative since the Initiative is a good channel for Africa to engage more deeply with China in terms of infrastructure. Tremendous opportunities exist for Africa to secure Chinese financing for its infrastructural development in order to support intra-continental trade, which will help facilitate the newly signed agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Africa is also likely to benefit from the newly created China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), designed to coordinate China’s foreign aid programs. The CIDCA institutionalizes a mutually beneficial and win-win concept of “development coordination” that is strongly connected with the Belt and Road Initiative. Africa is yet to climb the value chain of mineral processing and manufacturing. Through the Initiative, African economies could attract such funding to add value to their natural resources and produce commodities, which would help the region unlock its full potential in terms of natural resources.

      We are facing dramatic and dynamic changes in the world. China and Africa have once again come to a crossroads since both sides are undergoing economic and social transformations. Numerous African economies are looking forward to fully participating in the Belt and Road Initiative to reverse Africa’s anti-industrialization process that came as a result of their failed adjustments guided by Western “structural reforms” in the 1980s. The final goal is to accelerate technology transfers, job creation, and Africa’s comprehensive transformation.

      At present, China is continuing to develop diversified high-tech, labor-intensive, and capital-driven-industrial-capacity cooperation with countries across the African continent and islands nearby. It is certain that the FOCAC Beijing Summit this September will create a greater impetus to accelerate the fourth industrial revolution by driving an economic leap forward in both China and Africa.


The author is the executive director of the Center for Nigerian Studies at the Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University. (Translated by Jin Haiqiong, edited by Xiamara Hohman)


Full text:

“The Belt and Road Initiative: Breathing Life into China-Africa Cooperation”


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