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The fundamental difference between China’s and the West’s policy toward Africa

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    17:09, September 04, 2018

Chinese President Xi Jinping and foreign leaders attending the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) head for the venue of the summit's opening ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 3, 2018. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)

The 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation kicked off on Monday. At the opening ceremony, President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech that drew a warm round of applause from the audience.

Xi said China will implement eight major initiatives with African countries in the next three years and beyond, covering fields such as industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, and green development.

In his speech, President Xi said China values sincerity, friendship, and equality in pursuing cooperation, and said that China follows a “five-no” approach in its relations with Africa.

“No interference in African countries’ pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions; no interference in African countries’ internal affairs; no imposition of our will on African countries; no attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa; and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation with Africa,” Xi said.

This is the fundamental difference between China’s and the West’s policy toward Africa.

According to research by Dr. Shou Huisheng, a researcher at the National Strategy Institute of Tsinghua University, the “lethal aid” of Western countries with strict political conditions makes African countries recipients of assistance, but not entities of development, forcing African countries to obey the wishes of their Western donors in terms of development and operation. These agendas of the West end up undermining the autonomy and stifling the voices of the African people.

It is precisely because China follows a “five no’s” approach that China and Africa will have a bright future.

Why does China want to cooperate with Africa? According to Wang Hongyi, Director of the Information Research Office of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China and Africa share a lot of complementarities, and the potential of Africa’s economies offers huge opportunities. China has capital, industrial capacity, and technology; Africa is in the beginning stages of industrialization, and need funds, employment, and to transform its economy.

The African continent is home to an abundance of natural resources that include crude oil, manganese, copper, and other resources. However, Africa is not fully exploiting its natural resources and many Western countries profit selfishly by exploiting its resources for their own selfish reasons.

In the eyes of the Western media, the West sees no hope in the African continent. But China spotted an opportunity to promote mutual benefits and win-win solutions—trade between Africa and China was only $10 billion in 2000; last year, two-way trade reached $170 billion. At the same time, China-Africa cooperation has promoted development and employment. A recent report by McKinsey & Company, which surveyed more than 1,000 Chinese companies in eight African countries, found that on average 89% of their employees were African.

Africans understand that China is free of the historical baggage of colonialism. The biggest difference between China and the West is that China treats Africa as an equal. Economically, trade between China and Africa is fair. As the saying goes, it is better to teach a man to fish than to give a man a fish. China wants the world see “Made in China,” but also more “Made in Africa.”

Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper wrote: “Unlike the West, China is not domineering and overbearing; it does not decree that its enemies must be our enemies; it does not ask its allies to join its turf battles.” It continued to say that in contrast, when the Americans are fighting other countries, it insists that other countries join the call for sanctions or be punished. “The Chinese have taught us that a candle does not lose its brightness by lighting other candles; rather, it makes the world brighter,” it wrote.

Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper wrote that China “is a worthy partner in its efforts to break the age-old ‘poverty trap’ based on centuries of underdevelopment.”

The evidence is clear that China is helping Africa develop. More than 6,500 kilometers of railways; more than 6,000 kilometers of highways; more than 200 schools; more than 80 stadiums; dozens of government offices and parliament buildings and a large number of airports and ports; modern communication technologies; and more than 2,000 Chinese peacekeepers deployed in Africa. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. China’s actions speak louder than a dozen or so programs and slogans.

As the theme of President Xi’s speech suggests, China and Africa are walking together toward prosperity.

“Ultimately, it is for the peoples of China and Africa to judge the performance of China-Africa cooperation. No one could deny the remarkable achievements made in China-Africa cooperation, not with their assumption or imagination,” Xi said.

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(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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