Bedrock for China-africa Ties

The roadmap for 2019-2021 un­veiled at the Bei­jing edi­tion of the Fo­rum on China-africa Co­op­er­a­tion ex­panded the frame­work es­tab­lished at the 2015 Jo­han­nes­burg sum­mit.

China Pictorial (English) - - FRONT PAGE - Text by Mithila Phadke

To wit­ness the im­pact of China-africa friend­ship, visit Ethiopia, says Sala­mawit Kassa. See the African coun­try’s cap­i­tal, Ad­dis Ababa, first.

“Walk­ing around the city can be like a tour of Chi­nese com­pa­nies,” says Kassa, a news pro­ducer with Fana Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion there. “There are over 450 projects hap­pen­ing in ev­ery sec­tor imag­in­able. We have at least 15 in­dus­trial parks.” Com­ple­ment­ing the var­i­ous con­struc­tion projects is the Ad­dis Ababa-dji­bouti rail­way, a Chi­nese- ebuilt 756-kilo­me­ter elec­tric rail proj- ro­ject con­nect­ing land­locked Ethiopia pia to Dji­bouti.

“Ad­dis Ababa’s devel­op­ment is a win­dow to the devel­op­ment tak­ing king place ev­ery­where in Ethiopia, and d

by ex­ten­sion, across Africa,” says Kassa. She con­sid­ers the city’s gains among the fruits of Africa’s deep­en­ing friend­ship with China, which she hopes will strengthen fur­ther in the com­ing years.

This sen­ti­ment was at the heart of a two-day event Kassa at­tended along with fel­low me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tives, del­e­gates and heads of na­tions from coun­tries all over the African con­ti­nent. From Septem­ber 3 to 4, 2018, Bei­jing hosted the third sum­mit of the Fo­rum on China-africa Co­op­er­a­tion (FO­CAC). With the theme “China and Africa: To­ward an Even Stronger Com­mu­nity with a Shared Fu­ture through Win-win Co­op­er­a­tion,” the mul­ti­lat­eral sum­mit brought to­gether China and 53 African coun­tries plus the African Union.

The cen­ter­piece of the FO­CAC Bei­jing Sum­mit was the 20192021 co­op­er­a­tion plan out­lined by Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, which charted the path for China-africa co­op­er­a­tion over the next three years with fo­cus on eight key ar­eas: in­dus­trial pro­mo­tion, in­fra­struc­ture con­nec­tiv­ity, trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion, green devel­op­ment, ca­pac­ity build­ing, health care, peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­change, and peace and se­cu­rity. Among the high­lights were China’s pledge of US$60 bil­lion of fi­nanc­ing to Africa in the form of gov­ern­ment as­sis­tance as well as in­vest­ment and fi­nanc­ing by fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and com­pa­nies. Xi called on Chi­nese com­pa­nies to in­vest heav­ily in Africa over the next three years—at least US$10 bil­lion, to boost devel­op­ment.

The dec­la­ra­tion that for Africa’s least-de­vel­oped coun­tries, heav­ily in­debted and poor coun­tries, land­locked de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and small is­land de­vel­op­ing coun­tries that have diplo­matic re­la­tions with China, debt in­curred in the form of in­ter­est-free Chi­nese gov­ern­ment loans—due to ma­ture by the end of this year—would be ex­empted was met with thun­der­ous ap­plause. The an­nounce­ment fol­lowed through on the pledge made at the last FO­CAC sum­mit in Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa in 2015, at which in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal in­ter­est-free loans owed by the least-de­vel­oped coun­tries were waived.

Deb­o­rah Brautigam, di­rec­tor of the China Africa Re­search Ini­tia­tive at the Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity School of Ad­vanced In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies in Wash­ing­ton D.C., an­a­lyzed the pledge of loans and grants in a re­port. She noted that of the US$60 bil­lion pledged, only US$50 bil­lion would be pro­vided by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment. The dif­fer­ence was to be made up by pri­vate Chi­nese com­pa­nies’ in­vest­ments. The gov­ern­ment-sup­plied amount in­cluded US$15 bil­lion of grants, in­ter­est-free loans and con­ces­sional loans, US$20 bil­lion of credit lines, set­ting up a US$10 bil­lion spe­cial fund for devel­op­ment fi­nanc­ing and a US$5 bil­lion spe­cial fund for fi­nanc­ing im­ports from Africa.

The last two funds are un­likely to be loan- based, notes Brautigam, mak­ing the re­main­ing amount of US$ 35 bil­lion less than that pledged at the Jo­han­nes­burg sum­mit: US$40 bil­lion.

She breaks the num­bers down in her re­port: “The first pledge of Chi­nese in­ter­est-bear­ing loans was in 2006 (US$5 bil­lion). In 2009, the loan pledge dou­bled to US$10 bil­lion, and in 2012 it was US$20 bil­lion. At Jo­han­nes­burg in 2015, the Chi­nese pledged a full US$35 bil­lion in in­ter­est-bear­ing loans of var­i­ous kinds, and an­other US$5 bil­lion in grants and in­ter­est-free loans (US$40 bil­lion in to­tal).”

How­ever, the up­side is that it is ac­tu­ally a more con­ces­sional pack­age than what was of­fered in 2015. “China’s for­eign aid pledge (grants, in­ter­est-free loans, and con­ces­sional loans) has jumped to US$15 bil­lion,” Brautigam says. This means that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment’s con­ces­sional as­sis­tance of US$5 bil­lion per year is of­fi­cially the high­est level ever given by China to Africa to date.

A com­mon link across all eight key ini­tia­tives is the greater fo­cus on build­ing and strength­en­ing lo­cal ca­pac­ity. For in­stance, China has pledged to “share more of its devel­op­ment prac­tices with Africa” and pro­vide train­ing to young Africans along with schol­ar­ships and ex­change pro­grams. Ten Luban work­shops will be set up, and China will also help open a China-africa co­op­er­a­tion cen­ter to “pro­mote youth in­no­va­tion and en­trepreneur­ship.” Par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant in this re­gard is the pledge to in­crease im­ports, par­tic­u­larly non-re­source prod­ucts, from Africa.

Pres­i­dent Xi also de­clared in his key­note speech at the open­ing of the FO­CAC Bei­jing Sum­mit that China fol­lows a “five-no” ap­proach in its re­la­tions with Africa: no in­ter­fer­ence in African coun­tries’ pur­suit of devel­op­ment paths that fit their

na­tional con­di­tions; no in­ter­fer­ence in African coun­tries’ in­ter­nal af­fairs; no im­po­si­tion of China’s will on African coun­tries; no at­tach­ment of po­lit­i­cal strings to as­sis­tance to Africa; and no seek­ing of self­ish po­lit­i­cal gains in in­vest­ment and fi­nanc­ing co­op­er­a­tion with Africa.

Keep­ing with China’s call to build an “eco­log­i­cal civ­i­liza­tion,” FO­CAC 2018 Sum­mit, like the pre­vi­ous sum­mit, en­sured en­vi­ron­men­tal co­op­er­a­tion was high on the agenda. As part of a “green devel­op­ment ini­tia­tive,” the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment will be un­der­tak­ing 50 projects for green devel­op­ment and eco­log­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion in Africa to ex­pand ex­change and co­op­er­a­tion with the con­ti­nent on cli­mate change, ocean, de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion preven­tion and con­trol and wildlife pro­tec­tion. “China will work with Africa to pur­sue green, low-car­bon, cir­cu­lar and sus­tain­able devel­op­ment and pro­tect our lush moun­tains and lu­cid wa­ters and all liv­ing be­ings on our planet,” said Xi. “Let us build a China-africa com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture that pro­motes har­mony be­tween man and na­ture.”

As China and Africa con­tinue work­ing more closely to­gether, some things should be kept in mind to en­sure the re­la­tion­ship reaches its max­i­mum po­ten­tial, opined jour­nal­ist Kometa Richard Kwang from Cameroon. “Ef­fi­cient man­age­ment of re­sources is key. Re­sources from China used by Africa need to be uti­lized well in or­der to im­prove the liv­ing con­di­tions of the peo­ple of African coun­tries. In­fra­struc­ture set up by Chi­nese com­pa­nies must be prop­erly main­tained, and proper train­ing for it should con­tinue for the lo­cal work­force.”

Kwang has been cov­er­ing FO­CAC since its first sum­mit in Bei­jing in 2006. “The Fo­rum laid the foun­da­tion for devel­op­ment and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and African coun­tries,” he said. “Nu­mer­ous projects were launched, es­pe­cially train­ing pro­grams. Many young peo­ple from Cameroon and other African coun­tries went to China through sev­eral ex­change pro­grams that emerged. The Fo­rum has since ex­panded greatly in scope and scale.” ale.”

The im­prove­ment of China-afAfrica’s ties has re­sulted in win-win out­comes for both, said jour­nal­ist t Edgar Cueva, who was cov­er­ing the Fo­rum for CGTN’S Span­ish plat­form. “The core idea be­hind FO­CAC is to build a mu­tu­ally benen­e­fi­cial re­la­tion­ship be­tween China and the African coun­tries—but it has to be bal­anced. Its po­ten­tial is im­mense and its im­pact is not lim­ited just to the two par­ties s in­volved but is also sig­nif­i­cant on na a global scale.”

In­dian po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst and com­men­ta­tor Sud­heen­dra Kulka­rni arni cau­tioned against global com­pe­ti­tion aris­ing out of build­ing a re­la­tion­ship with Africa, which could end up be­ing ex­ploita­tive and harm­ful for the con­ti­nent. “Africa ca doesn’t need ri­vals; it needs coun­ntries work­ing to­gether in har­mony,” ny,” he says. “This re­la­tion­ship has to o be born out of a gen­uine de­sire to build a syn­er­gis­tic, mu­tu­ally re­spect­ful bond. And China, with h FO­CAC, has cre­ated a solid foun­n­da­tion for this.”

At the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony of the Tian­jin Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy and Ed­u­ca­tion, African mas­ter’s de­gree stu­dents get their diplo­mas. In his speech at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the 2018 Bei­jing Sum­mit of the Fo­rum on China-africa Co­op­er­a­tion, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping de­clared that China would pro­vide Africa with 50,000 gov­ern­ment schol­ar­ships and 50,000 train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for sem­i­nars and work­shops, and would in­vite nvite 2,000 young Africans to visit China for ex­changes.

2017: Startup en­trepreneurs from African coun­tries in­clud­ing Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Africa and Botswana visit the head­quar­ters of Alibaba Group in Hangzhou and meet Jack Ma, chair­man of the group. VCG

Staffers of the “film and tele­vi­sion car­a­van” bid farewell to lo­cal chil­dren in Ethiopia. The “film and tele­vi­sion car­a­van” was a ma­jor cul­tural ac­tiv­ity pro­moted by Star­times, a Chi­nese me­dia group, aim­ing to bring qual­ity films and tele­vi­sion pro­grams to African view­ers. cour­tesy of Star­times

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