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China Daily Website

Africa seeks to learn a lesson from China

Updated: 2013-02-16 01:07
By Qin Zhongwei ( China Daily)

Africa hopes to learn from China's development experience and strengthen its partnership with Beijing on issues relating to regional peace and security.

This was the message from the head of the African Union Commission on Friday who was attending the fifth China-AU Strategic Dialogue.

Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will stay in Beijing until Sunday for the dialogue, co-hosted by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Zuma, a former South African interior minister and the first woman to lead the African Union's executive branch, said she wished to create a long-term development plan for the continent and restructure its economy to enhance sustainable development. She thanked China for its support.

When he met Zuma on Friday, Yang said China hopes to further extend cooperation with Africa in areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, human resources and media, and to increase coordination and communication on international and regional issues.

He also wishes to continue to promote senior-level visits, hoping that Sino-African ties can move to a higher level.

Analysts said these ties are strengthening through cooperation systems such as the strategic dialogue.

"These institutional frameworks provide effective platforms on which member states map out guidelines for future cooperation in the region, as both China and the AU attach great importance to bilateral ties," said He Wenping, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Like old friends interacting frequently, China and Africa need to maintain the consistency of bilateral communication, making the best of current mechanisms, so that both parties' demands are met and problems solved in a timely fashion," He added.

Xin Shunkang, Chinese ambassador to Namibia, said recently in an article published by a newspaper in Namibia that cooperation between China and Africa is mutually beneficial.

"Although there are problems in some Chinese enterprises and merchants that run their businesses in Africa, they are very rare and minor compared with the great benefits brought to the two sides through close cooperation over the past years," he said.

He said Western bias against China's role in the continent cannot fool African people, as African countries, which have been enjoying the benefits of Sino-African partnerships, are best qualified to evaluate Beijing's conduct in the region.

"Zuma's positive remarks during the talks on China's contributions to the development of Africa serve as clear proof," he said. "But Chinese enterprises in Africa should also bear in mind the win-win principle, and obey local laws."

China surpassed the United States and Europe as Africa's largest trading partner in 2009 and has maintained its leading place in the following years. Bilateral trade was around $11 billion in 2000 and reached $160 billion in 2011.

China's Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhai Jun attended the African Union Summit held in Ethiopia at the end of January. He said China, as the biggest developing nation and one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, is willing to play an important role in helping bring peace and security to Africa.

China is making efforts to launch a project called "Initiative on China-Africa Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Security", and is also willing to be involved in peacekeeping missions in Africa and provide assistance to them, according to Zhai. China's special representative on African affairs, Zhong Jianhua, has attended a donor conference on the crisis in Mali. China supports efforts from African countries and regional organizations to safeguard Mali's unity, regional peace and security, and has vowed to provide aid to Mali and other countries in an attempt to help tackle the humanitarian crisis.

Zhong also went to Sudan and South Sudan earlier in 2012 to mediate between the warring neighbors.

Pu Zhendong contributed to this story.

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