China and Africa Cooperation: Whose Threat ?

Published on 28th April 2008

China-Africa relation has become a very hot topic not only in the continent, in China, but around the world. Proudly, The traditional China-Africa relations started from Kenya, when a Chinese Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, 600 years ago, sent a large fleet of 200 ships and 20000 sailors led by the great Chinese navigator Zheng He across the oceans to visit the east coast of Africa 4 times.

They visited Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu, and other coastal towns. At that time, China was a real 'superpower' with its GDP representing 70% of the world's total. They came to Africa around 90 years before the famous Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama. The Chinese brought with a message of peace and goodwill, silk, porcelain and left back for China with the same message of peace and goodwill, flavorings, herbs and a pair of giraffe that stand for auspicious in Chinese culture.

Over the past 50 years, China and Africa have exchanged sympathy, understanding, support and assistance to each other in national liberation, maintaining peace, safeguarding national sovereignty and promoting economical and social development.

After the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation(FOCAC), which was held in Beijing in November 2006, China and Africa have established and are constantly developing a new type of strategic partnership, featuring political equality, mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchange.

China is the biggest developing country in the world and the African continent encompasses the largest number of developing countries. The two sides, working hand in hand, have common interests in many fields including maintaining peace and promoting development.

I like the theme of the discussion China in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges but I humbly change one word "in" into "and" to read China and Africa: Opportunities and Challenges because China-Africa relations are growing in a cooperating, mutual benefiting and interactive way. We can say China is in Africa and Africa is in China as well. China and Africa, cooperating with each other, are faced with both opportunities and challenges under the new circumstances.

I'd like to send a message to the European friends that China- Africa cooperation is an important component of international cooperation for development. Such cooperation is the mutual assistance between developing countries within the south-south cooperation framework, which is neither targeted at any third party nor threatens the interest of any country. China, American and European countries share common wishes to help Africa achieve peace and development and therefore enjoy a broad space for cooperation. China takes an open, constructive and inclusive attitude to work together with the international community, including America, EU, India, Japan among others towards the peace and development of Africa.

Over the past 30 years since China adopted the policy of openness and reforms, China has made great progress in the political, economical and social fields. The civil society of China has witnessed great and fast growth, too. Now, there are around 400,000 civil society organizations registered in China, they are playing an active and important role in the political, economical, social and cultural life in China as well as in the international arena.

I am pleased that representatives of the civil society from Africa, China and Europe sit together to share views and information on China-Africa relations, which, I believe, will help promote the mutual understanding.

Today, we are in a new era, the ear of Globalization. In the era, peoples and countries need more and more communication, exchanges and mutual understanding than ever before, rather than un-rational attacks, defamation, humiliation, misunderstanding and suspicion. Such communication should not be limited within diplomats and politicians, but through the civil society organizations as well.

Excerpted from the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya’s speech delivered at the Nairobi Safari Club during the Public Lecture and Discussion on China-Africa Relations held by HEINRICH BOLL FOUNDATION at Safari Club Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.



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