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Cooperation keeps China-Africa ties strong

(Global Times)

09:42, July 12, 2012

Sino-African relations have come under the media spotlight with the recent China-Africa People's Forum and the coming Forum on Sino-African Cooperation ministerial conference. The two sides have high expectations of each other. Meanwhile, as they engage further, more problems have emerged.

This bilateral relationship cannot be free of troubles as both sides are evolving.

For example, a growing number of Africans believe China is a developed country and should dole out more aid to African countries. It is a natural request as even European countries are eyeing Beijing's foreign exchange reserves. However, the reality is China is a massive developing country. It cannot meet all of Africa's demands.

The Sino-African relationship doesn't and shouldn't center only on aid diplomacy. Bilateral cooperation is prominent. China, as the biggest driving force behind African growth, is estimated to have contributed to more than half of the continent's economic growth.

This friendship of 60 years is built on their complementary resources. Africa has provided China with its energy resources and political backing. China has returned the favor with capital, technology and development experience.

The problems that exist in cooperation are no reason for frustration. The diplomacy between China and Africa has changed from an exchange of elites to public diplomacy. As a diverse range of professionals are involved in daily exchanges, conflicts are bound to increase.

Among China's illegal immigrants, some come from Africa, posing challenges to managing the expat community. A few profiteering Chinese businesspeople in Africa are doing no good to China's image.

These problems deserve due attention, but shouldn't poison both sides' attitude to each other. The problems are isolated cases. Even the troubles China experienced during the disintegration of Sudan had a limited impact on overall ties.

Africa and China are moving closer to each other. That's a positive development. But it doesn't mean a trouble-free relationship. Chinese and Africans should be clear about this.

China should show its true image to Africa. The country is not all about glittering metropolises. China is actively improving its ties with Africa but the opportunity for cooperation is not exclusive to China. It brings no benefit to China. A prosperous Africa means more business opportunities.

Political competition between the West and China in Africa is a result of media frenzy. It is an illusion created from the geopolitical reality.


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