Tri­lat­eral re­la­tions

ChinAfrica - - Cover Story -

While China di­rectly sup­ported African coun­tries across var­i­ous eco­nomic sec­tors as part of es­tab­lish­ment of diplo­matic re­la­tions from the 1960s, this sup­port has over the past decade been un­der­taken tri­lat­er­ally un­der the UN mech­a­nism. Be­gin­ning 2006, China has es­tab­lished agri­cul­tural demon­stra­tion cen­ters in var­i­ous African coun­tries un­der the aegis of the UN Food and Agri­cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion aimed at bol­ster­ing the con­ti­nent’s food se­cu­rity. This has in­volved China’s send­ing of agri­cul­tural ex­perts to train African farm­ers in across crop, livestock and fish farm­ing by lever­ag­ing the agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy ca­pac­i­ties that have made China food self-suf­fi­cient.

Work­ing with the AU and the UN World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO), China played an im­por­tant part in help­ing stem the Ebola virus epi­demic that threat­ened Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nige­ria and Guinea. The as­sis­tance came with in­no­va­tions as the WHO even­tu­ally listed the China-made Ebola Virus Real Time Kit - which gives re­sults in two hours flat - as a means of screen­ing pa­tients. This is one ex­am­ple in which China has worked with the WHO in help­ing stem African trop­i­cal dis­eases, par­tic­u­larly malaria.

It is largely agreed that China’s prow­ess in the UN sys­tem is to the ben­e­fit of African coun­tries. At the World Bank and In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund where China has a huge sway due to its ap­pre­cia­ble share­hold­ing and vot­ing power, it has voted in sup­port of in­clu­sion of Africa in numer­ous pro­jects. In­deed some of the in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects that dot the con­ti­nent today were im­ple­mented in tri­lat­eral fash­ion by the World Bank, China and African coun­tries. For in­stance, a Chi­nese firm, the China Road and Bridge Corp., was in­volved in World Bank road in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects in Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda among oth­ers. Since 2010, the World Bank’s pri­vate sec­tor lend­ing firm, the In­ter­na­tional Fi­nance Corp., has been giv­ing loans to Chi­nese firms look­ing to do so­cial cap­i­tal pro­jects in Africa. This tri­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion is set to con­tinue in fu­ture as China and the World Bank signed an agree­ment in Septem­ber this year for co­op­er­a­tion in the African in­fra­struc­ture sec­tor.

The cur­rent phase of China-africa re­la­tions in the UN sys­tem are un­der­lined by the align­ment of the three broad plans: the AU’S Agenda 2063, the FOCAC ac­tion plans for the pe­riod 2015-18 and the UN Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals. A range of pro­jects and pro­grams are al­ready un­der­way, notably led by the UNDP China of­fice which works closely with the Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment, the AU and in­di­vid­ual African coun­tries. (The au­thor is a post­doc­toral fel­low at the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand, Jo­han­nes­burg)

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