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Officials urge unbiased view of China-Africa cooperation


13:07, November 12, 2011

WANNING, Hainan, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinese officials on Friday called on critics to look at the economic relationship between China and Africa in an objective way, rather than "politicize" the cooperation based on groundless hearsay and guesswork.

"China, which is pursuing a path of peaceful development, will never repeat what Western colonists did in Africa," said Lu Shaye, director-general of the Department of African Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the Second Roundtable Conference on Sino-African Cooperation convened here in south China's Hainan province.

Lu described China-Africa cooperation as a "strategic choice" made by the two sides, which is conducive to the rise of developing countries as a whole and will prompt the world to develop in a "more balanced and rational" direction.

As one of a number of countries with ties with Africa, China is open-minded to consider the cooperation between African nations and their other partners, Lu said.

Liu Guijin, China's special envoy for African affairs, acknowledged that natural resources constitute a major part of China's imports from the African continent, a situation that leads some Western politicians to pour scorn on the Chinese government and Chinese enterprises.

"The root lies in the imperfect trading structure between China and Africa that has been existing for a long time," said Liu, former ambassador to Zimbabwe and South Africa, adding that the problem cannot be addressed "overnight," and China and Africa need to make joint efforts to solve it.

"African nations need, first of all, diversify their own economic structure and products so as to improve the trading structure between China and Africa," Liu said.

Actually, Africa's trade with other countries such as the United States, Japan, Britain and France is also characterized with the same problem, said the Chinese envoy.

It is unfair to single China out for criticism, he added.

According to Liu, China is building six economic and trade cooperation zones in five African countries to improve the local infrastructure and investment environment there.

According to a white paper issued last December by the Chinese government, the cooperation zones in Zambia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia involved 250 million U.S. dollars in infrastructure construction.

The cooperation zones, once completed, will work as "business incubators" that help attract investment in Africa from various countries and create a lot of jobs, he said.

"China hopes to share its own experience of reform and opening up with African nations," Liu said, adding that if the cooperation zones -- currently at a pilot phase -- prove a success, they will make great contributions to improving Africa's economic structure, optimizing the exports and spurring the local manufacturing sector.

Agriculture is another priority field for China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, Liu said, adding that helping Africa solve its food security problem is the ultimate goal in the agricultural cooperation.

Liu was frank about some frictions that stain economic cooperation between China and Africa.

Over the past decade, various Chinese enterprises have flocked into Africa, said the envoy, adding that the enterprises not only brought jobs for local workers, but also competition to local firms.

It is estimated that over 1,600 Chinese companies, both state-owned enterprises and privately-owned firms, have invested in Africa, creating more than 350,000 jobs.

However, the individual disputes should neither be exaggerated nor politicized, Liu said, adding that China and Africa need to work together to solve the problems caused by some enterprises.

"With this as the backdrop, we issued the Wanning Declaration at the Second Roundtable Conference on Sino-African Cooperation," Liu said.

The Declaration not only displays the willingness of China and Africa to expand and improve their cooperation, but also requires Chinese enterprises be self-disciplined and supervised in terms of their market behavior in order to ensure the healthy development of China-Africa economic and trade relations, officials said.

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