January 27th, 2012 | Xinhua Commentary: A top-level visit to enhance China-Africa friendship amid growing interdependence
As another manifestation of the growing importance of the time-honored ties between China and Africa, Beijing on Friday set in motion another top-level visit to the rising continent.
During his goodwill visit to Ethiopia, top Chinese political adviser Jia Qinglin will address the opening session of the annual African Union (AU) summit and attend a ceremony to inaugurate the new AU headquarters.
The building complex of the AU headquarters, which is constructed with Chinese assistance, is not only a new landmark in Addis Ababa but also the latest landmark in the long friendship between China and Africa.
Despite the ever-changing global situation and the current financial woes, China-Africa ties have remained strong as both sides view each other as crucial to their own development and prosperity.
A good indicator of how important China and Africa are to each other is their booming economic and trade cooperation, which serves as a mainstay of and a major driving force behind their overall bilateral relations.
During the first three quarters of 2011, trade volume between China and African countries reached 122.2 billion U.S. dollars, representing a 30-percent increase year on year.
Meanwhile, China’s non-financial direct investment in the continent registered a 87-percent increase to reach 1.08 billion dollars.
The growing interdependence between China and Africa is reflected in the mutual need for each other as an indispensable market. China’s products and technology meet the needs of Africa’s development, while the Chinese market welcomes African products.
Moreover, the rapid development of China, the world’s biggest developing country, provides valuable experience for Africa, the continent with the largest number of developing countries.
What is more significant is that China not only facilitates Africa’s development, but also contributes to strengthening Africa’s own capacity for development by helping countries on the continent build various essential infrastructure.
Underlying the thriving economic and trade cooperation is a profound affinity forged by mutual support and trust that go back a long way as both sides have always respected each other’s core interests.
As an example of that affinity, nearly all 53 African countries adhere to the one-China policy.
On the Chinese side, Beijing has arranged numerous top-level visits to Africa. Chinese President Hu Jintao has toured Africa four times since taking office in 2003, more than the combined number of visits paid by former US President George W. Bush and incumbent President Barack Obama.
And since 1991, the Chinese foreign minister’s first foreign visit every year has always been to Africa. This year, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi’s first visit from Jan. 2 to 7 was also to African countries, namely Cote d’Ivoire, Niger and Namibia.
However, some media and pundits have alleged China’s engagement with Africa is nothing more than a selfish quest for resources. Some have even branded China’s presence in Africa as neocolonialism, regardless of the fact that the bilateral relationship is mutually beneficial and that Beijing attaches equal importance to all African partners, regardless of whether they are rich or poor in natural resources.
Jia’s visit to Ethiopia serves as another example of this as Ethiopia is not rich in resources.
Just as Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said a week earlier, China’s energy cooperation with Africa should be fairly and objectively evaluated as it fully adheres to international practices and market rules and has effectively promoted African countries’ economic and social development and brought substantial benefits to the African people.
China has been committed to developing economic and trade relations with Africa on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and common development, Liu said, adding that energy cooperation with Africa is neither the sole content of China-Africa cooperation nor the starting point of China’s policy toward Africa.
Actions speak louder than words. In countries like Angola, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Sudan, China has been working hard to provide much-needed development assistance, using its own physical and intellectual resources.
Not only has China completed numerous vital infrastructure projects for African countries, it has also trained tens of thousands of skilled workers for them to sustain their comprehensive development.
Moreover, Africa’s modernization and the future of the Chinese economy are inseparable as Africa’s modernization boosts China’s manufacturing and construction industry, while China’s engagement promotes Africa’s rapid modernization.