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Quality, corporate image stressed in China-Africa cooperation


08:24, March 19, 2013

BEIJING, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun on Monday stressed raising the quality of the China-Africa trade partnership and projecting responsible images of Chinese corporate culture in Africa.

Zhai made the call at a forum on Chinese businesses in Africa, which was hosted by the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) and attended by Chinese enterprises, academics and African diplomats in Beijing.

Zhai said China has been Africa's largest trading partner since 2009, and the China-Africa trade volume has skyrocketed from 10 billion U.S. dollars in 2000 to nearly 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2012.

However, he noted "growing pains" in China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. "Although the volume increased rapidly, there has not been much progress in quality improvement."

"Our capacity still falls short of meeting the expectations of our African friends," Zhai said, adding that as Chinese businesses lack experience in international operations, there is great room for improvement in terms of localization and corporate social responsibility.

He urged Chinese businesses in Africa to work for mutual benefit and common development, saying, "Making quick money and leaving is a myopic action, and 'catching fish by draining the pond' is unethical."

Zhai also called for Chinese businesses in Africa to value the corporate images they project, asking them to compete with integrity and value, respect local laws and customs, improve the treatment of laborers and environmental protection efforts, and enhance localization.

Liu Hongkuan, deputy director of the Department of Foreign Capital and Overseas Investment under the National Development and Reform Commission, urged Chinese businesses in Africa to create jobs for local residents and increase local tax revenues.

Former Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, who is now president of the CPDA, said at the forum that China-Africa cooperation benefits and serves the prosperity and development of both sides.

According to Li, Africa has become China's second-largest source of crude oil and its fourth-biggest destination for foreign investment.

He also quoted Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission, by noting that China has greatly helped Africa maintain its robust growth despite the international financial crisis.

China's active involvement in African infrastructure construction and the country's increasing investment have boosted the African economy and improved the lives of Africans, Li added.

Yuan Li, vice president of China Development Bank (CDB), China's biggest foreign investment and financing bank, took stock of the bank's financial cooperations with African countries.

Yuan said the bank's direct investment in Africa via the China-Africa Development Fund has reached 2 billion U.S. dollars.

According to Yuan, the bank's investment and financing cooperation with Africa operate in a variety of fields, including agriculture, electric power, manufacturing, resource exploitation, communication, roads, aviation, ports, urban infrastructure and people's livelihood.

CDB has provided 700 million U.S. dollars in loans to small and medium-sized African companies since 2009, said Yuan.

He said according to rough statistics, these loans generated 20,000 jobs in Africa and benefited 400,000 local farmers. They also marked a 400 million-U.S. dollar increase in the China-Africa trade volume.

"CDB will work with its African partners to make new contributions to China-Africa common development," he said.

There are now over 2,000 Chinese enterprises operating in 51 African countries and regions, covering virtually all business sectors.

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