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Opinion

China-African cooperation can serve as global model

Source: China Watch 2018-09-07

     Zeng Aiping

The 2018 Beijing Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit was held in Beijing on Sept 3-4. It was one of the major diplomatic events that China will host this year, and also the largest one regarding the number of participating countries. The summit has produced two outcome documents: the Beijing Declaration—Building an Even Closer and Stronger China-Africa Community with a Shared Future and the FOCAC Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021). President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony, charting Sino-African Cooperation in the next three years and beyond.

“Sino-African community with a shared future” are definitely the most conspicuous keywords that define the summit. Xi elaborated in his speech the full meaning of the community with a shared future between China and Africa, which distinguishes itself with features of joint responsibility, win-win cooperation, happiness for all, cultural prosperity, common security, and harmony between human and nature. 

A closer scrutiny on these keywords show they will serve as concrete, visible and tangible guidelines to realize the ambitious ideal of China-African community with a shared future. Joint responsibility means that China and Africa should engage politically to strengthen the policy consultation and alignment, enhance the mutual political confidence and trust to guarantee the correct direction of China-African cooperation. 

Win-win cooperation aims to provide a solid material and physical basis for building the China-African community with a shared future, and strengthen the connection between China and Africa. 

Happiness sharing touches upon the people-to-people exchanges and public perceptions of China-African cooperation. The ordinary people from both sides should enjoy more benefits and well-being brought from a China-African cooperation that is very people-centered. 

Cultural prosperity is to strengthen the spiritual connectivity between China and Africa, enhance the cultural glamour and soft power of China-African cooperation. 

Common security refers to provide a peaceful and stable external environment for China-African collaboration, help related African countries to realize the initiative of silencing guns, respect African countries’ sovereignty and ownership in terms of the resolution of conflict and end of the war, enhance China’s constructive engagement and contribution to African peace and security issues. 

Harmony between human and nature intends to protect the ecological environment of Africa, strike a balance between economic development and the environment, so as to reach the ideal realm of “Nature and Man in One”. Both China and Africa commit not to develop the economy at the expense of environment. These new ideas and approaches will undoubtedly push the construction of China-African community with a shared future towards a new era with higher standard and improved quality.

Feasible action plans 

To fulfill the above mentioned new ideas and concepts, the Beijing summit announced that China and African countries would jointly implement eight major initiatives; industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, healthcare, people-to-people exchange and peace and security. 

This eight-point plan is very broad, correlative and comprehensive, aiming to break the bottlenecks for African development in areas and sectors all related to people’s welfare. China will provide more official development assistance to Africa and help related countries to reach food security as soon as possible. It will also cultivate and train more talents for African countries, and provide more scholarships to African students in China. 

In the public health area, China and Africa will focus on flagship projects like the headquarters of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and China-Africa Friendship Hospitals, etc. 

To enlarge and deepen China-Africa investment cooperation, the financing mechanisms created by FOCAC, including China-Africa Development Fund, the China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation and the Special Loan for the Development of African SMEs, will be more influential and play more proactive roles. China also supports African countries to make best use of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), New Development Bank and the Silk Road Fund to better align the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to promote the infrastructure development and connectivity in the African continent. 

China and African partners are committed to protect the environment and wildlife in Africa, and avoid the obsolete development paradigm of “polluting first, cleaning up later”. China-African cultural exchanges and people-to-people communication programs will be strengthened and upgraded, so as to deepen mutual understandings and shun unnecessary misperceptions. Without widely-accepted public understanding and support, China-Africa community of a shared future could not go far or win the hearts of both peoples. 

Peace and security concern long-term stability and people’s happiness. China plans to establish a new fund and forum respectively, placing special emphasis to the Sahel region, the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Guinea. 

All in all, the construction of a closer and stronger China-Africa community of a shared future adheres to the “five-no” principle: 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 China-Africa investment and financing cooperation. 

These “five-no” approach is the systematic conclusion and upgrade of China’s formal practice of non-intervention policy in Africa. They are widely hailed by African governments and people. These principles mean that China and African states are relying on each other, but at the same time mutually independent. They will fully, better mobilize African countries’ enthusiasm and their own initiatives of Africa-China engagement, thus making China-Africa community of a shared future a model and epitome of a community of a shared future for all.

Zeng Aiping is deputy director of the Department for Developing Countries Studies, China Institute of International Studies. The author contributed this article to China Watch exclusively. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of China Watch.

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