Era Of Equals?
China released a White Paper, titled ‘China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals’, on November 27 (2021). It comes on the eve of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which takes place every three years. This year, it is scheduled to be held online on November 29-30 in Dakar, Senegal. Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a video address to the Summit on opening day.
The White Paper is a full report, highlighting the accomplishments China-Africa projects, trade and developments till date through graphs and charts. This record completely refutes the bluster by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was in Senegal on November 19-20, the third stop of his tour of Africa, after Kenya (November 17-18) and Nigeria (November 18-19). In Dakar, Blinken made ludicrous claims about how the Build Back Better World (BBBW) was superior to working with China, which he denounced for Human Rights violations, and also for enticing nations into debt traps.
China is Africa’s biggest single trade partner. In 2020, the figure for China-Africa trade, as a total of the continent’s total trade, exceeded 21%. And, there is an increased export to China of mechanical and electrical products, and high-tech products, now accounting for more than 50% of the total. Also, China is the second largest destination for Africa’s agricultural exports.
China is investing in Africa’s agriculture development, with 7,456 African trainees having received agricultural training in the Asian nation. Through various projects, such as sending Chinese agricultural experts to Africa, more than 50,000 Africans have been trained and 23 agricultural demonstration centres have been built in the Dark Continent. By the end of 2020, more than 200 Chinese companies had an investment stock of USD 1.11 billion in the agricultural sector in 35 African countries, covering areas, such as planting, breeding and processing, according to the White Paper.
As far as infrastructure development is concerned, China is also in the lead. Since the founding of the FOCAC in 2000, Chinese companies have helped the African countries construct and upgrade more than 10,000km of railways, nearly 100,000km of highways, nearly 1,000 bridges and 100 ports, and 66,000km of power transmission and distribution. China has helped build and install power-generating capacity of 120 million kw, a communications backbone network of 150,000km and a network service, covering nearly 700 million user terminals.
The digital network in Africa has also been expanded by China, helping build submarine cable projects, connecting Africa with Europe, Asia, and the Americas. They have built more than half the continent’s wireless sites and high-speed mobile broadband networks, with more than 200,000km of optical fibre being laid, giving broadband internet access to six million households, and serving more than 900 million local people.
The People’s Republic of China has done yeoman’s service in bringing the lessons of Beijing’s poverty reduction to Africa, supporting local governments, academics, enterprises, and youth and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in carrying out exchanges and co-operation on poverty reduction.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, China emerged as a friend in need for Africa, as Beijing provided the continent with medical and other services. Over the past 58 years, China has sent a total of 23,000 health officials to Africa, who have treated 230 million patients. At present, there are nearly 1,000 Chinese medical workers in 45 African countries. Chinese medical teams carried out 34 free clinical programmes under the Brightness Action initiative, restoring the eyesight of almost 10,000 African cataract patients. Till date, it has helped 18 African countries strengthen medical specialties, covering cardiology, critical care medicine, trauma and endoscopy. China has also trained 20,000 African medical personnel. It was also the first country to insist on the export of vaccines to the African countries, and took the lead in exporting its own vaccines. By November 2021, China has provided 1.7 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 110 countries and organisations, including 50 African countries.
China is also working diligently in the area of education, setting up an Education Fund under UNESCO to train 10,000 teachers in African countries. It is deeply involved in sharing its science and innovation capabilities, and is working with several African countries in developing their satellite capabilities.
In the area of security, China has stationed over 30,000 peacekeepers in Africa to perform tasks in 17 peacekeeping mission areas, with more than 1,800 peacekeepers currently performing missions in Mali, the DR Congo, South Sudan, Abyei and Western Sahara.
Most of the African countries are aware of the long history of China in Africa as a friend and a benefactor, and never as a colonial or colonial-surrogate power, with its own vested interests in Africa. In the White Paper, China has also underlined the importance of maintaining equity and justice in aid and development projects in Africa, without any political preconditions. China also stressed the importance of maintaining the principle of multilateralism and equality of the developing countries. It hopes to cooperate with the countries in Africa in order to achieve that new and just World Economic Order that has been the concern of the Developing Nations since it was raised in the 1970s by Lyndon LaRouche and his international collaborators in the Third World.
Boundless Ocean of Politics has received this article from Christopher Lewis of Schiller Institute, Frankfurt, Germany.
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