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Africa bonds grow ever stronger

By CHEN YINGQUN | China Daily | Updated: 2021-11-29 09:25
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A Chinese agricultural expert (second from right) shows workers how to use a drone to spray herbicides over a rice farm in Mozambique. Thanks to China's technical support, yields at the Chinese-backed farm have increased significantly. LIN SHANCHUAN/XINHUA

Cooperation with China heading to new highs with forum, experts say

Editor's Note: With the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation opening on Monday in Dakar, Senegal, this page looks at the issues expected to be discussed while highlighting the successes of past meetings and the broader efforts to strengthen ties between the two sides.

China's relationship with Africa is destined to grow even stronger, with the two sides on track to reach a higher level of cooperation propelled by a focus on tasks such as dealing with public health crises and advancing sustainable and high-quality development over the coming years, analysts say.

The spirit of collaboration that has long marked the ties between Africa and China will be in evidence at a major platform for bilateral cooperation that opens on Monday in Dakar, Senegal.

The Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, or FOCAC, will bring together 55 members for the two-day event.

Discussions will be held on a wide range of topics under the theme "Deepen China-Africa Partnership and Promote Sustainable Development to Build a China-Africa Community with a Shared Future in the New Era".

He Yun, an associate professor at the School of Public Administration at Hunan University in Changsha, said 2021 stands out as the final year for the implementation of the outcomes of the 2018 FOCAC meeting in Beijing. That means the ministerial meeting this week will play a vital role in assessing the successes achieved since that forum and set out plans for the next stage of cooperation, He said. "It will help start a new phase in Sino-Africa cooperation," she said.

From January to September, indicators of economic and trade cooperation between the two sides have shown upward trajectories. Trade flows rose 38.2 percent year on year to $185.2 billion, the highest level recorded for the same period in any year, data from China's Ministry of Commerce shows.

China's direct investment in Africa for the nine months reached $2.59 billion, up 9.9 percent year on year. The growth rate exceeded the pre-pandemic level in the same period of 2019.

The scholar said the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are two crises that will shape the common future of China and Africa. Both sides must work together to contain the pandemic in Africa with the speedy distribution of more vaccines while pursuing economic recovery.

"The two should also work together on renewable energy, e-commerce and resilient agriculture to mitigate the consequences of climate change," He said.

Nasser Bouchiba, president of the Africa-China Cooperation Association for Development in Morocco, said the conference is of great importance for all participants, as Africa has been suffering from the ramifications of the health crisis.

He said he expects African and Chinese participants will discuss ways to boost efforts to overcome the pandemic through collaboration on the production of COVID-19 vaccines and further medical assistance.

Another subject that Bouchiba wants to see discussed is the willingness of China to provide additional financial support for the construction of infrastructure in Africa.

"In Africa, we mostly need help to improve our infrastructure and to train our youth to undertake roles in leadership and management," he said. "This kind of assistance should never be tied with political conditions as it will become a burden for African governments. China, thanks to its nonintervention policy and the Belt and Road Initiative, could perfectly help us to achieve these goals."

Tang Xiaoyang, a researcher in African studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said that over the past decades, China and Africa have shared similar political views, such as seeking national independence, upholding multilateralism and opposing hegemonism and power politics.

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