From Hangzhou to Hamburg: Africa at the Cen­ter

ChinAfrica - - Opinion -

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.

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