By Li Xiaohua
China.org.cn, September 18, 2014
China acts more efficiently in African development than western countries, said Dr. Patrick Mendis, a distinguished senior fellow and affiliate professor at George Mason University`s School of Public Policy, on Sept. 17 in Beijing.
Dr. Patrick Mendis delivers a speech at Renmin University of China`s Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies on Sept. 17, 2014. [Li Zhen / China.org.cn]
Dr. Mendis made these remarks while attending a seminar at Renmin University of China`s Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, a very active and important think tank in China.
China is often criticized by western media for its strategy in Africa. Critics claim that China`s strategy is more about exploiting the continent`s natural resources than driving the development of local economies. They also allege that Chinese companies do not hire local workers and only look out for Chinese interests at the expense of African countries. When asked whether he agreed with these remarks, Dr. Mendis, who was born in Sri Lanka, said that he doesn`t see it in that way, asserting that, "When we look at the development that is taking place in Africa, or even in Sri Lanka, obviously China is contributing to world human progress."
A former American diplomat who currently serves as a commissioner to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO at the U.S. State Department, Dr. Mendis continued to explain that China`s contributions in Africa follow a model that differs from that followed by western countries. It usually takes a long time for the World Bank or IMF, which have long been dominated by the West, to approve a project in Africa. However, China is more efficient, building infrastructure projects in Africa – including roads, railways and harbors – which are very important for the economic development of the continent. Chinese universities are also training many African young people. "China is giving a new direction to the world," Dr. Mendis said. In 2012, China`s Department of Foreign Assistance at the Ministry of Commerce said it had more than 27,000 students from Africa. By the end of 2013, more than 35,000 Africans were studying in China.
As for the Sino-US relationship, Dr. Mendis said the United States doesn`t have anything against the Chinese: "We never went into any direct war against each other. When the Nanjing Massacre was taking place, who came to push the Japanese back? The Flying Tigers, they flew from Kunming to push the Japanese out. If you go to the Nanjing Museum, you can see how Americans helped and rescued the Chinese people." He also added, "If you don`t know the history, you can`t talk about the future."