A mutually beneficial China-Africa strategic relationship

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LIU GUANGYUAN

Nearly a month ago, the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was successfully convened in Beijing. During this conference, China and African countries held deep discussions on how to further enhance the New Type of China-Africa Strategic Partnership under the theme of “Build on past achievements and open up new prospects”.

Two outcome documents were also issued. At the opening ceremony of the conference, the Chinese President, H.E. Hu Jintao, announced that China will take measures in five priority areas to support the cause of peace and development in Africa with a credit line of US$ 20 billion.

At the FOCAC Beijing Summit in 2006, China and Africa decided to establish a New Type of China-Africa Strategic Partnership featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation, and cultural exchanges for mutual learning.

In my opinion, the New Type of China-Africa Strategic Partnership has demonstrated strong vitality of the times in the following ways:

First, the long-term friendship between China and Africa has gone deeper and has also become more profound. The traditional friendship between China and Africa, featuring sincere and friendly relations, equal treatment, mutual support, and common development, has guided the all-round, constant and in-depth development of China-Africa relations for over fifty years.

In recent years, the relations between China and African countries, and between China and African regional organizations, have developed into a new level. The two sides maintained frequent exchanges of high-level visits, deepened mutual understanding and rendered support on core interests and major concerns, and strengthened the practical cooperation with fruitful results in various fields, which have brought great tangible benefits to the peoples of both China and Africa.

Over the past two years since I came to work in Kenya, I have had a very strong feeling that the China-Africa friendship has been deep-rooted, the hearts of the two peoples are getting closer, and the common interests are increasing significantly. China-Africa relations can be regarded as the most solid and most cordial bilateral ties in the current international relations.

Second, the links on the economic and trade relations between China and Africa have become much stronger. The total trade volume between China and Africa hit a record high of 166.3 billion US dollars in 2011, compared to only 10 billion in 2000.

By April this year, China’s total direct investment in Africa reached 15.3 billion US dollars, about 30 times the figure 10 years ago. More than 2000 Chinese enterprises have their investments or businesses in 50 African countries.

The eight measures for practical cooperation announced at the Beijing Summit of the FOCAC in 2006 and eight additional measures announced at the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC in 2009 have been effectively implemented, and have played an important role in advancing the economic and social development of African countries.

Both the quality and quantity of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation reached a higher stage of development. The two sides have formed an inseparable win-win cooperation pattern of increased interdependence and closer integration of mutual interests.

Third, the cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and Africa have become increasingly dynamic. The past years have witnessed closer cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and Africa at a higher level and with a broader scope, a more active atmosphere and a more fruitful result.

The two sides have successfully held 5 Cultures in Focus events, 2 People’s Forum and 2 Young Leaders Forum. Under China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Plan, 28 research projects have been carried out, and 14 international seminars have been held. Today’s seminar is just one of them.

These mechanisms and platforms have enhanced the understandings between the Chinese people and the African people from all walks of life, who have fostered a more friendly relationship like brothers and sisters.

Besides, each year over 5000 African students receive Chinese government scholarships, over 700,000 Chinese tourists travel to Africa, while over 400,000 African tourists travel to China. Every week there are more than 20 regular flights between China and Africa. The social base of China-Africa relations has been solidified, and more momentum has been gathered.

Fourth, the coordination in international affairs between China and Africa has been much closer. The two sides worked closely on the major international issues like United Nations reform, climate change, WTO Doha Round negotiations, etc., with the aim of upholding the common interests of developing countries and establishing the new international political and economic order.

China firmly holds that priority should be given to increasing the representation of African countries in the UN agencies. China has intensified its engagement in Africa’s peace and security affairs, increased the number of Chinese peace-keepers to Africa, and actively carried out escort missions on combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.

It has further demonstrated the strategic significance of the cooperation between China and Africa in the international affairs and global issues.

(The author is the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya)

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  • It was sad to read in another news media of Ambassador Guanyuan referring to the presence of the chinese in Kenya as helping to revive our dilapidated economy. That is insulting and totally uncalled for remark. First of all the economy of Kenya rests on and is the sole responsiblity of the people of the Republic of Kenya. Secondly any revival of the same economy lies in and is carried out by kenyans. This article avoided the whole issue of what has been occuring in Nairobi over a longer period of time culminating in threatening leaflets being spread at chinese shopkeepers premises and a demonstration held against their overwhelming presence in the city. That is not economic win-win situation by the way it is trade inbalance.

    The majority of the chinese shopkeepers are also many times retailers,hawkers and grossists all in one. Kenyan indigenous hawkers and other businessmen are rarely allowed to travel to meet manufacturers in China and must resort to these same persons who become also their competitiors. Is this fair ? Also the number of substandard goods has been raising alot of questions with counterfeit mobile phones leading the group. It is well known that many businesses are operated by persons affiliated with Triads and many times carry out other illegal activities apart from the said businesses they engage in. They also gain access to goods that are normally rejected for sales at the manufacturers and received for free. These are sold in Kenya as genuine after being passed through KEBS, KRA and Customs as false original and good products. This is why they are able to sell these at throw away prices while the Kenyan hawkers must sell at much higher prices and can not compete. This is a clear way to end domestic commercial businesses by this unfair practise. Do we find domestic Kenyan hawkers on the streets of Beijing ? How many tour operators are there from Kenya with offices and running tours for domestic chinese in China ?

    Trust and friendship are based on a mutual benefit for both parties and not a one-sided event. Start by showing we are real friends by actions not words. Let Kenyan business men and women go to China and meet with manufacturers on the spot for more than 2 weeks for them to finalise and complete their deals. Let Kenyan tour operators open business offices in China as well as other companies and businesses. That is showing a mutual framework for bringing nations closer together. As it stands today, China is benefitting more than Kenya from its relationships. It is kind to help in the development of a nation even be it by loans or long-term credits. What China needs to do is also understand that it is not only China involved in this exchange between our two nations. It must be done in a fair manner that equates to showing the equality of citizens in both nations. There should not be double standards or preferential treatment given. Relations are positive when they are mutual and grow in peaceful means. Lets work to see this happening.

    • Boiyot

      Anthony,
      I get the feeling that it might be those who are negotiating on our behalf who are not representing us properly…. Why would China ‘volunteer’ for an equal trade relationship if we’re not asking for it in the negotiating table? It’s just not in their interest! Even you yourself would not push that cause if you were a businessman…
      On the subject of substandard goods, it is again the failure of our customs officials to do their jobs diligently! If we had 20% fake goods in the market, maybe that would be acceptable, but when we have 80%, that is failure by us to watch what comes in to our country! Especially when the said fake goods come from one country… It should be ‘just’ a matter of increased policing/scrutiny of incoming goods from China!

      • @db6c27b3384d277813eb54ab9e3b8d6e:disqus you have a very interesting viewpoint and i agree if this was the case then we are already short changed at the negotiating tables. Very little of the trade that Kenya does with China is equal and there are lots of statistics to show this. We miss out on getting a fair deal when we focus only on monetary benefits and forget there are other small subtle issues that follow suit in any negotiations.

        Sadly our Customs have failed big time. Let me give a scenario that Nigerians used in another african nation. They simply got one good working sample from a manufacturer in China and offered this for approval and certification by that countries standards organisation.Then they went back to China and got the same product albeit those rejects that could not be sold for very little and exported them all the way to africa. Eventually laughing all the way to the bank before that nations Customs officials bothered to do their homework after many complaints. Corruption is our biggest downfall as a nation. What i personally know and from a chinese friend is some uncaring businessmen/women do the same and get the same from the factories for free. They are thus able to sell the same damaged goods in the kenyan markets at throw away prices while demanding the local hawkers purchase real and much more expensive same products at huge profits for them as grossists and middlemen. More or less our officials have failed in this simple issue of protecting our nations consumers. They have turned the other way.

        Europe have learnt from this and stop daily counterfeit and fake goods from China worth millions. These are piling up in ports or entry and harbors all across europe. Its all in the news.

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