From an economic point of view, China has much closer ties with African countries than with many Asian countries along the “One Belt, One Road” route.
By Xue Li (Global Times) |
Not long ago, I took a 10-day trip to Africa with the aim of finding out about the real situation of China-Africa cooperation against the background of the “One Belt, One Road” (B&R) initiative. The three countries I visited were Egypt, Ethiopia and Tanzania. All three are major players in the China-Africa industrial capacity cooperation, but only Egypt is on the “One Belt, One Road” route. After visiting Chinese embassies, Chinese-funded enterprises, investment projects and parks, local government agencies and think tanks in the three countries, I came up with several thoughts with regard to China-Africa cooperation.
First, I was impressed by the in-depth and broad economic cooperation between China and Africa. The three countries I visited each have more than 20,000 Chinese workers engaged in areas including manufacturing, services, medicine, planting and mining, as well as in areas of infrastructure such as railways, highways, bridges, airports, ports, factories, telecommunication networks, housing and municipal facilities. There are quite a number of Chinese State-owned and private enterprises operating in Africa, which has become one of the fastest-growing markets for many private enterprises and even the key overseas investment destination for some Chinese firms. For instance, Huawei Technologies Co now holds the leading market share in Africa, having overtaken its Western rivals.
In-depth China-Africa economic cooperation is also seen in many other African countries. From an economic point of view, China has much closer ties with African countries than with many Asian countries along the “One Belt, One Road” route.
Second, I saw the importance of bilateral relations. China attaches great importance to relations with Africa. Chinese foreign ministers have visited Africa during their first foreign trips each year over the past two decades, which is a unique tradition among big countries. Meanwhile, African countries also pay great attention to relations with China. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, the ruling political party in Ethiopia, learned from and combined China’s experience with their reform policies, in areas such as governance, anti-corruption, promoting industrialization, building development zones and agricultural reforms. Tanzania is eager to deepen its economic cooperation with China, and President John Magufuli has called for China’s participation in the construction of Tanzania’s central railway line linking its major cities. One of the priorities of Egypt’s policy of “turning to the East” is to strengthen economic cooperation with China. At present, all these countries are concerned about whether the B&R includes them and what their roles in it will be.
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