New concepts need to be in line with times

14:28, July 29, 2011      

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Several years after Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson coined the term "Chimerica," European scholars developed the ideology of Eurafrica, which calls for greater cooperation between Europe and Africa to contend against the dominant global influence of Chimerica.

In fact, Chimerica has been a controversial idea since it came into being, and even Ferguson himself admitted that Chimerica would soon unravel. Although the feasibility of Eurafrica remains to be seen, the ideology has exposed the complex attitudes and some faulty beliefs of the European people.

The ideology of Eurafrica shows that Europe is increasingly feeling unsafe, and is eager to find a partner to create a counterweight to Chimerica. It has also exposed the paranoid and suspicious thoughts of certain European people.

Many Europeans are worried that China and the United States may further strengthen cooperation and jointly dominate the world some day, which may greatly reduce the global influence of Europe. More specifically, they are worried that as the two countries steadily increase their influence in Africa, the existing European sphere of influence on the continent may gradually shrink. Lack of confidence has aggravated Europeans' anxieties and reduced their trust in the United States, the traditional ally of Europe.

Some Europeans insist on regarding Africa as their monopolized "manor," and their thoughts seem to be still stuck in the colonial period. Today's Africa is active in expanding ties with the world's major powers and building up various types of cooperation mechanisms with them, so Africa is no longer considered Europe's "backyard."

It is reasonable for Europe to use Africa to reinforce its status in the world, and yet it has gone too far to forcefully draw Africa into its small exclusive circle. This will make African countries lose the opportunity to comprehensively cooperate with the outer world. In essence, Europe aims to isolate rather than unite Africa.

Although Europe maintains countless links to Africa in terms of geopolitics, history, culture, language and religion, it is irrational for it to build up the "Eurafrica." Equality, respect and mutual benefit are the preconditions for "integration," which are just what the Europe-Africa relations lack.

Historically, the relationship between European powers and Africa was colonists and colonies. A long shadow left by European colonists in Africa is still affecting today's territorial and clan conflicts in the continent. Although Europe lost its suzerain status in Africa after a large group of African countries achieved independence in the 1960s, it has never reduced its "paternalistic" interferences in Africa. Europe has always used assistance along with political conditions as its primary tool to advance its policies in Africa, and its interferences are blamed for partly leading to unrest in some African countries.

European countries did not change their policies toward Africa until 2005, when the European Union (EU) proposed the new Europe-Africa relations of "equity, partnership and independence" for the first time after countries of the world increased their supports to Africa.

However, the arrogant and disrespectful style of Europe did not change. From the Ivory Coast to Libya, European countries always use the toughest measures to interfere with governments of Africa that do not buy their words.

In recent years, the European Union has been greatly promoting the course of the negotiation for the "economic partnership" agreement and asks Africa to open all its agricultural product markets for Europe except for the sugar and rice markets. This requirement has obviously ignored the real development level of Africa and may make fragile Africa further lose its competitive economic power and independence.

The people of Africa clearly know the situation. Therefore, at the African Union Summit held recently in Malabo, countries from Africa withstood the pressure from the EU and refused to declare that the Gaddafi government is illegal.

As the world progresses and economic globalization continues to develop, a new international relation structure with interwoven interests is taking shape. A situation in which one or two countries control the world or one in which a handful of countries deliberately cause a confrontation is not suitable and will not be supported by the people of the world.

Concepts such as "Chimerica" and "Eurafrica" all disaccord with the tide of the era. If some people want to create new concepts, they had better clearly know the tide of the era. Otherwise their concepts will be nothing but doltish and useless phrases.

By Zhong Sheng from People's Daily, translated by People's Daily Online

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