Chinese president Xi Jinping and African leaders walk toward the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 3, 2018. (Photo: Xinhua)
Note: The following is an edited translation of a commentary from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."
For the past 18 years, some Western countries and sections of the media have questioned the basis of cooperation between China and Africa. But this week's Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing has been something of a turning point for many of the people who held doubts about this relationship.
The main question raised by the Western media about China's investment in Africa was whether it constituted a form of "debt trap diplomacy". The China-Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in the United States said in 2015 that African countries might not be able to repay their loans to China. However, not long ago, they released a new report that said China's loans are not the main reason for Africa's debt problems. Rather, their debts come largely from international financial institutions, and not China's loans for development assistance.
Another common accusation has been that China's development projects create jobs for Chinese people in Africa, rather than jobs for local African people. But CNN recently cited a McKinsey report that said China has created millions of jobs in Africa, with nearly two-thirds of Chinese companies in the continent providing skills training to local employees. The report surveyed more than 1,000 Chinese companies in eight African countries and found that African staff make up 89 percent of the workforce of these companies.
Some people have also objected to China's involvement in Africa on the grounds that, as the Financial Times recently put it, "The Chinese model is failing Africa". But this sentiment was countered strongly in a BBC report that quoted Akinwumi Adesina, the head of the African Development Bank and former Nigerian agriculture minister, who said that "A lot of people get nervous about China, but I am not. I think China is Africa's friend." The BBC report also cited Ghanaian investment analyst Michael Kottoh, whose advisory firm Konfidants provide advice to a stable of international clients. He believes that Africa has made significant new gains in its trade, investment, and finance arrangements with China: "There are several truly win-win deals that African nations have closed without the typical onerous conditions associated historically with doing business with Western countries."
Kottoh's words affirm the effectiveness of the principle of "five nos" that applies to China's cooperation with Africa. China won't stand in the way of African countries as they explore a path towards development that is in line with their unique national conditions. China won't interfere in Africa's internal affairs. It won't impose its own will on others. It won't attach political conditions to its African aid programs. And it won't act out of political self-interest when it comes to investment and financing in Africa. Although some people in the West hold a variety of views on China-Africa cooperation, China firmly believes that only Chinese and African people can judge if the cooperation between China and Africa is good or not. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has gone so far as to call Western criticism of China's work in Africa "sour grapes."
When Africa emerged from war, hunger, and poverty to embark on the road to development, many countries and international organizations attached great importance to cooperation with the continent. This cooperation has seen the birth of a variety of forums for cooperation, including the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the E.U.-A.U. Summit, the Arab-Africa Summit, the South America-Africa Summit, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, and the Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit. Each of these has brought a new unique approach to cooperation between Africa and the rest of the world, and China has always been happy to watch the development of these relationships.
Lagging infrastructure, inadequate financing, and talent shortages are the three major bottlenecks that constrain Africa's independent and sustainable development. Whoever helps Africa break the three major bottlenecks is a true friend and reliable partner in Africa's development. This is why China's President Xi Jinping has proposed eight major development initiatives covering fields such as industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, green development, peace and security. Undoubtedly, these will help Africa to enhance its ability to break the bottlenecks to its development.
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation reflects the concerted efforts of China and Africa to build a future of shared prosperity, and to transform the global governance system. China and Africa accounts for one-third of the world's population, so the global sustainable development goals can only be realized when China and Africa achieve their peaceful development. The China-Africa relationship can be an inexhaustible supply of vitality for enhancing the voice of developing countries, improving the international order, and promoting the reform of the global governance system. It is truly a model for multilateral cooperation.
Source: China Plus