From Hangzhou to Hamburg: Africa at the Center
launched two important Africa-focused initiatives during its G20 presidency this year. One is Compact with Africa put forward by Federal Ministry of Finance of the country, aiming at taking joint measures to improve sustainable infrastructure, enhance investment framework and support education and capacity building in Africa. The initiative, participated by world multilateral financial institutions such as the African Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, is open to all African countries. The other initiative is the Marshall Plan with Africa proposed by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. This comprehensive initiative consists of three interconnected pillars: economic activity, trade and employment; peace, security and stability; and democracy, rule of law and human rights.
China held the G20 presidency last year and has been actively participating in G20 mechanism construction. At the Hangzhou G20 Summit last September, supporting African industrialization was included in the summit communiqué, the first in G20 history. This year, Germany continued to give paramount importance to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and African cooperation as part of the summit.
Previously, G20 summits mainly focused on topics of concern to developed countries, while issues related to developing countries such as development and infrastructure construction were marginalized. However, after the Hangzhou and Hamburg summits, which focused on African issues, the bloc started showing greater concern to poverty elimination and development of non-member states, improving its inclusiveness. China remained true to its position that “G20 not only belongs to its members, but also the whole world” at the Hamburg Summit.
In addition, China also plays an active role in coordinating emerging countries in multilateral mechanisms. During the G20 Hamburg Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over the BRICS Leaders’ Informal Meeting, which also issued a communiqué indicating the stances of emerging economies on G20 topics. According to the communiqué, the BRICS nations uphold a more inclusive, balanced, and open world economy, firmly support a rule-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system, implementation and enforcement of existing WTO rules and commitments, and oppose protectionism. In a critical moment when protectionism and antiglobalization are on the rise, China and other emerging nations have become the mainstream force in global governance mechanisms such as the G20. The German Government issued a series of Africa-related initiatives during its G20 presidency, indicating that it attaches importance to the continent. Undoubtedly, the most important reason is the refugee crisis. The German Government has realized that the root cause of the crisis is poverty and inequality. Thus, Germany hopes to reduce the number of refugees through strengthening sustainable development of refugee-source countries in Africa by increasing jobs and youth development opportunities in their own countries.
By launching these Africa-related initiatives, the German Government hopes to go beyond the traditional assistance model and provide a better environment for its private sector to participate in African economic development. For this purpose, it also pays attention to the wording of the documents, such as replacing “for Africa” with “with Africa.”
However, efforts still need to be made to ensure full participation of the continent. Take the Marshall Plan with Africa for example, which failed to include African countries in its planning stage. As a result, it mainly reflects the ideas of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development on Africa’s sustainable development. Hence, Germany should expand its horizon and regard Africa not as a problem, but as a partner with whom problems can be solved. China and Germany can work closely in various aspects because of their increasingly shared vision on global governance.