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Year-ender: Outstanding achievements for Sino-African relations in 2015

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

01-08-2016 18:35 BJT

By Yan Jian, Assistant Director, Center for Global Governance and Development Strategies, Central Compilation and Translation Bureau of CPC Central Committee

Sino-African relations in 2015 had culminated with the opening of the sixth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, South Africa, last December. Chinese President Xi Jinping had pledged $60 billion in loans and assistance to Africa for the next three years. The FOCAC meeting demonstrates the vigor of today's Sino-African Relations.

Established in October 2000, FOCAC is held every three years to strengthen cooperation between China and African states to meet the challenges of economic globalization and seek common development.

FOCAC Johannesburg summit is a milestone. Chinese President Xi Jinping laid out his "Ten Cooperation Plans" to boost Sino-African Relations, which would cover industrialization, agricultural modernization, and infrastructural upgrades, which had been hailed by African leaders.

China is Africa's largest trading partner. Bilateral trade volume is estimated to have surged to $US300 billion by the end of 2015. Chinese companies are more economically engaged with the Continent than ever before.

An estimated 800 Chinese corporations are conducting business in Africa, mainly private companies investing in the infrastructure, energy and banking sectors. Beijing has redoubled its efforts to finance the construction of badly-needed roads, ports, bridges and railways for her African partners.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, until September 2015, the railways that China has built or is building for African countries have reached 5675 km and 4507 km respectively.

As the only railway builder in Africa, China has provided nearly 10,000 locomotives for 29 African countries. In February, China wrapped up the rebuilding of the 1300 km-long Benguela railways for Angola, which stands of vital importance to the economic recovery of the war-ravaged country.

In November, the electrified Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit (AA-LRT), the first of its kind in Ethiopia, was put into service thanks to China. Apart from booming economic links with Africa, Beijing has enhanced its political, cultural and military ties with the Continent, along with high-level political exchanges.

Five African leaders attended the commemorative activities marking the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, which was held in Beijing last September. Xi made successful state visits to Zimbabwe and South Africa last year.

China had built more schools and hospitals in Africa and provided more government scholarships to African students for them to study in China. Beijing has played a crucial role to combat the Ebola epidemic, which had ravaged three West African countries last year.

According to a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Beijing has provided emergency assistance to affected areas, sent over 1,000 experts and doctors to treat the infectious disease and trained more than 10,000 local doctors since its outbreak.

The Chinese Defense Ministry announced last December that Beijing is negotiating with Djibouti to build a facility in the country to support China's peacekeeping and fighting pirate missions in the horn of Africa.

China is more active in the UN's peacekeeping missions in Africa, in order to maintain peace and stability in the region. Of course, we shouldn't shy away from the "problems incidental to growing up" in Sino-African relations.

China has endured terrorist attacks that have targeted its nationals in Somali and Mali. Beijing is ramping up its security ties with African counterparts, especially since there are an estimated one million Chinese citizens residing and working there today.

Beijing has also noticed increasing complaints about Chinese companies from African media outlets. Grievances have ranged from not fully complying  with safety and environmental standards to unfair business practices.

Chinese companies operating in Africa should better abide by local laws and customs and care more for local people's concerns.  Beijing should enhance its "soft powers" in Africa. Nonetheless, China still enjoys higher prestige there, largely due to its infrastructure development and large-scale economic assistance for African countries.

According to the "Spring 2014 Global Attitudes Survey" conducted by Pew Research Center, 49% of African respondents had favorable feelings about China: still at a relatively higher level compared with other industrialized countries, but a far cry from the China’s standing in a similar survey in 2007.

Therefore, China should launch a charm offensive in Africa by strengthening cultural and personnel exchanges.

"The emergence of China as a power among others offers an opportunity for African countries to free themselves from the shackles that are colonially-designed," South Africa President Jacob Zuma told students at Tsinghua University in 2014.

Sino-African relations have opened a new chapter in 2015 and we have much more to expect from the year ahead.

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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