‘S. Africa meet­ing can take re­la­tions to the next level’

China Daily (Canada) - - ANALYSIS -

“The aim was to pro­duce a book where Chi­nese and African schol­ars could give their view­points about the Chi­naAfrica re­la­tion­ship.

“This is im­por­tant be­cause I think Western aca­demics are of­ten crit­i­cal of the en­gage­ment. We see po­ten­tial, whereas they want to send out warn­ings.”

Shel­ton, 58, has been an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Wit­wa­ter­srand since 2002, be­lieves there will be a num­ber of sub­stan­tive agenda items emerg­ing from the Johannesburg sum­mit.

Th­ese will in­clude a step­ping up of in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment, in­vest­ment in high- speed rail, African re­gional in­te­gra­tion, poverty re­duc­tion, eco­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion, fe­male em­pow­er­ment and a re­newed em­pha­sis on se­cu­rity mea­sures.

Shel­ton be­lieves

China wants what it has de­scribed as “a new epoch” for China-Africa re­la­tions, partly built on the con­ti­nent’s key role in China’s Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

Shel­ton, who co-edited his lat­est book with Li An­shan, pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional stud­ies at Pek­ing Univer­sity, and Funeka Yazini April, a re­searcher at the Africa In­sti­tute of South Africa, said the only con­cern is that a slow­down in the China econ­omy may af­fect whether some of the ob­jec­tives can be met.

“If over the next three to five years the Chi­nese econ­omy con­tin­ues to slow, it might have some neg­a­tive im­pact on the sum­mit agenda,” he said.

Shel­ton be­lieves an­other fo­cus for the first time at a FOCAC meet­ing will be fe­male em­pow­er­ment, which is a high pri­or­ity in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

“Fe m a l e

em­power- ment is a big trend in Africa. One of the prac­ti­cal pro­pos­als com­ing out of the sum­mit could be for the Chi­nese to re­serve 50 per­cent of the places for stu­dents go­ing from Africa to study in China for women,” he said.

The aca­demic be­lieves the agenda for this FOCAC sum­mit be­gan to be shaped when Pres­i­dent Xi made Africa one of his first over­seas des­ti­na­tions when he vis­ited Tan­za­nia, South Africa and the Repub­lic of Congo in 2013.

“He placed quite a lot em­pha­sis on the Chi­nese dream of na­tional re­ju­ve­na­tion be­ing di­rectly linked to Africa’s dream, for poverty re­duc­tion. This was a very pos­i­tive mes­sage. It was al­most as if China could be a role model for Africa,” he said.

Shel­ton’s pre­vi­ous book, The Fo­rum on China-Africa Co- op­er­a­tion: A Strate­gic Op­por­tu­nity, which he wrote with Farana Paruk and was pub­lished in 2008, stressed the im­por­tance of the Chi­naAfrica re­la­tion­ship.

He said one of the most im­pres­sive as­pects of the FOCAC is China’s im­ple­men­ta­tion of the agenda.

There are more than 20 Chi­nese gov­ern­ment de­part­ments linked to a FOCAC im­ple­men­ta­tion com­mit­tee within China’s Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs.

“If they say they are go­ing to build 20 schools, then 20 schools will be built. We don’t have any worry about this hap­pen­ing, and we are very sat­is­fied.”

Shel­ton, who is also a di­rec­tor of the Pre­to­ria- based In­sti­tute for Global Di­a­logue, be­lieves China’s build­ing of in­fra­struc­ture has had a trans­for­ma­tive im­pact on the con­ti­nent.

He is dis­mis­sive of those who ar­gue that set­ting up fac­to­ries and driv­ing the in­dus­tral­iza­tion of the con­ti­nent would have been ef­fec­tive.

“I have visi­tors from China who say they would love to in­vest in man­u­fac­tur­ing but are con­cerned about how they would get their goods from the man­u­fac­tur­ing plant to the har­bor and then ex­port it.

“I think the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­vest­ment will flow not just from China but else­where, but you have to have the in­fra­struc­ture first.”

If over the next three to five years the Chi­nese econ­omy con­tin­ues to slow, it might have some neg­a­tive im­pact on the sum­mit agenda.”

pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at the Univer­sity of Wit­wa­ter­srand

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