Source: Global Times Published: 2016-2-3
"I`ve gained dignity," said Tadiyos Getaneh, an Ethiopian engineer with China First Highway Engineering Corp, summing up his working experience with the Chinese construction company. "They take in colored staff like me. Working with that company for about seven years, now I`m one of the greatest designing engineers in the company and in the country also."
Getaneh is not alone. Thousands of people are working for China-invested infrastructure projects in Africa and other areas.
Following the Chinese President Xi Jinping`s whirlwind diplomacy during the past two years, infrastructure construction is expected to see a boost not only in Africa, but also the rest of the world.
Since taking office in 2013, Xi has visited over 40 countries, flying nearly 400,000 kilometers to share his "One Belt, One Road (B&R) initiative. The initiative, which Xi put forward in 2013, aims to boost the interconnectivity and common development of nations along the ancient land and maritime Silk Roads.
Xi`s efforts have been well received. During his recent Middle East trip, China signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on jointly building the B&R initiative with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran respectively. Beijing and Riyadh have also clinched an MOU on strengthening cooperation in building the "Online Silk Road."
"The initiative is the only ideal way for the region to realize peace and development," said Jia Jinjing, a director-general of Department of Macroeconomics at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.
He added that "Striving to promote extensive cooperation on the basis of connectivity, the B&R initiative, which has no political goals, is what the Middle East needs for development."
`Proud of help`
As a global development blueprint, the B&R initiative runs through Asia, Europe and Africa, bringing convenience and economic benefits to countries along the route.
"Almost every infrastructure construction in Angola is done by Chinese companies," Ilidio, an Angolan employee with the 3rd Engineering Co of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) Fourth Harbor Engineering Corporation, told the Global Times.
"We are proud of China`s help," Ilidio said, adding that Beijing-invested infrastructure projects have been convenient for local people and boosted economic development in Africa.
Addis Ababa Ring Road, for instance, is renowned as "the First Road" in Ethiopia. Built by China, the road is a landmark part of Ethiopia`s modernization.
"Our company has built 34 major road projects in Addis Ababa from 2009 to 2015," claimed Getaneh, whose company is the contractor for the ring road.
Apart from concrete infrastructure projects, China brings working experience and advanced management skills to Africa, which may have a lasting influence on the development of the continent.
"The government understands that Chinese are quite efficient and hardworking. Unlike European companies, the Chinese ones are not expensive. They can work with a local salary that the government can afford to pay," Getaneh said.
"Most of the Chinese companies not only work as businessmen, but also train local contractors. Local employees have learned good working habits from the Chinese and learned to manage their time," said Getaneh, "This has developed the country."
While "there is no trust" in Africa-West cooperation, mutual trust is what makes China-Africa cooperation effective, Getaneh stressed.
Although the B&R initiative has not yet resulted in concrete projects in some nations, it is much anticipated. "The Tajikistan government will spare no efforts to support the B&R" Daviatbekova Madina, a Tajikistani employee with the China Road and Bridge Corp said.
"China is capable of helping other countries. Besides articles for everyday use, China can export technology, finance and equipment as well … Tajikistan`s government is willing to work jointly with China to seize the opportunity to develop," Madina noted.
For nations distant from China, the B&R strategy means abundant opportunities, experts said.
"Obviously, we are very far away from China. Up till now, I don`t think we are able to build a bridge that long that can support the easy transportation and communication between the two countries. But the B&R initiative is very important for Brazil and China to do businesses today," said Savanah Oliveira Kunz, another CCCC employee from Brazil.
She added that "There are always a lot of difficulties to do business between both countries. The initiative will help us progress. Brazil is still a developing country. China`s initiative will give an advantage to both parties."
Connecting the vibrant East Asia economic circle at one end and developed European economic circle at the other, China`s infrastructure blueprint is looked forward to by developed nations as well.
"The initiative is significant for all the EU nations. The economic relationship between China and Europe is very strong," said Lutz Werner, another CCCC employee from Germany, where a train connection is now being established to China.
Admittedly, the B&R initiative will face a number of difficulties in implementation. However, the initiative, which focuses on cooperation rather than conflicts, will serve as "a blueprint for the peaceful development of the world," Jia stressed.
Jia Jinjing, director of the macro research department at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, was quoted in this article.