Political and economic ties between China and Africa are growing at a rate that has the rest of the world sitting up and taking notice. However, China's blossoming relationship with Africa has become a source of fear and anxiety for some Western media. The contacts between China and Africa are aimed at fostering friendship, cooperation and economic links, yet some media commentators see it as further evidence of China positioning itself in Africa at the expense of Western powers. China stands ready to offer assistance within its capacity to developing countries in need. The aid is provided sincerely without conditions attached. The trade between the two sides, oil and other natural resources included is conducted publicly and transparently for mutual benefit. It has offered Africans affordable goods.
The China-Africa cooperation has given Africa more expansive room to diversify its contact with the world. Also, it has inherent mechanisms to reinforce mutual respect for one another.
China has never promoted its mode of economic development on African soil. It keeps its hands off African countries' internal affairs and respects their choice of development approaches. The "please-don't-copy-our-model" advice the then paramount leader Deng Xiaoping gave the visiting President of Ghana Jerry Rawlings in September 1985 is an explicit statement of China's purpose. China has always taken national conditions as the top priority when formulating policies.
The China-Africa Forum has served as a successful platform for the two sides for collective consultation and dialogue. It is a cooperation mechanism between developing countries, which falls in the category of the South-South cooperation.
China proposed the initiative in the context of the challenges of the 21st century and the new circumstances it has thrown up, especially that of economic globalization. As part of the South-South cooperation, China and Africa should work together to effectively tackle the challenges of globalization and speak as one on international matters affecting developing nations.
The political commitments China and Africa have made in the two important documents are a vivid illustration of the importance the two sides attach to the growing links.
By He Wenping
Director, Division of African Studies of the Institute of West Asian and African Studies Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The Article first appeared in China Daily 0n 11/06/2006
Comment on this article!