Source: Global Times Published: 2018-1-15
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) shakes hands with Rwandan President Paul Kagame during their meeting in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, on Jan. 13, 2018. (Xinhua/Lyu Tianran)
Chinese investment in Africa will contribute to the independent development of nations by loosening them from the Western model of development, Chinese experts said amid Foreign Minister Wang Yi`s four-country visit to Africa.
Wang is visiting Rwanda, Angola, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe from Friday to Tuesday.
"Choosing Africa as the first destination of the year is a tradition for Chinese diplomacy, showing China has always put Africa in a primary position. China will host the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Beijing in September, so it will be a fruitful year and a new start to China-Africa relations," Liu Naiya, executive director of South African Studies Center, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. FOCAC is considered a key cooperation forum for the Belt and Road initiative.
China hopes to raise cooperation with Africa to a new level, said Wang during his meeting with his Rwandan counterpart Louise Mushikiwabo in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, the first stop of his African trip.
Cooperation between China and Africa used to be mainly about China providing humanitarian aid to the continent, but now the relationship is more focused on economic spheres including investment, trade, and production capacity cooperation, Wang Yiwei, the Jean Monnet chair professor at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Monday.
"This has greatly improved the foundation of the China-Africa relationship, and it makes Africa a successful example for China`s foreign investment," Wang Yiwei said.
Mushikiwabo told Wang Yi that Rwanda is willing to strengthen cooperation with China regarding the Belt and Road initiative, which she said has set a good example of deepening regional cooperation for other countries.
"At the requests and wishes from African countries, China has decided to upgrade FOCAC to a summit," Wang Yi said after the meeting with Rwanda President Paul Kagame on Saturday.
"This shows that China`s influence in Africa is very different from the West`s. China has never forced Africa to accept anything it doesn`t want, and has never put pre-conditions on cooperation. China has both the capability and sincerity to boost Africa`s development, so African countries have high expectations of China," Liu said.
Challenges and solutions
"In the francophone zone covering 24 African countries, France has set very strict controls on their politics and economies, but the multi-party political system with a poor economic basis has resulted in instability, so economic development doesn`t have an ideal environment," Wang Yiwei stressed.
"Continuity of policy is a problem in many African countries, and this is impacting Chinese companies` sense of security," Yin Yiqiao, president of Future Group, a privately owned Chinese company which has been doing business in Africa for 20 years, told the Global Times.
Angola will quicken improvements to its investment and business environment, so as to guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, Angolan President Joao Lourenco said at a meeting with Foreign Minister Wang, Xinhua reported.
The next stage of cooperation will expand and boost interconnections between African countries through the construction of high-speed railways, highways and a network of airports. With enhanced infrastructure, African countries` ability to develop will be improved, and their dependence on the West will be reduced, Wang Yiwei told the Global Times.
"Publicity is another shortcoming for China in Africa. In fact, China`s contribution to the locals is greater than the West, but in many cases, Western media`s biased reports have damaged China`s image and brought obstacles to cooperation, so Chinese media should pay greater effort to changing the unfair public opinion environment in Africa as well," Yin said.
Wang Yiwei is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.