CHINA> Commentary
Sino-African relations move on right track
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-02-13 07:41

Editors' Note:

Senegal ambassador to China and his counterpart to Senegal talk to China Daily about the future of Sino-African relations, as the Chinese President sets foot on the Republic of Senegal on his first state visit to the West African country.

Papa Khalilou Fall

The relations between Sino-African countries are essential to both China and African countries right now and are very profitable for the two sides. In many areas, the two regions have found their relationship to be complementary.

In the 1970s when China rejoined the United Nations, African countries held China on their shoulders. Now, China has returned the favor as an act of grace. The cooperation between the two countries is a friendly channel that helps African countries along the road of development and prosperity. Those who cite China's presence in Africa as neo-colonialism are on the wrong track.

Both China and Africa should foster their mutual interests.

China's help to Senegal is only just beginning. Over time, the change will be significant. With two sides promoting bilateral relations over the past few years, we are on the right track. We should continue to explore cooperation, and President Hu Jintao's visit will boost bilateral ties in all diplomatic, political and economic areas.

The exchanges between senior leaders have been very healthy. Abdoulaye Wade, the President of Senegal, visited China in June 2006 for his first state visit after the two countries re-established diplomatic relations, and visited China again in November 2006 for the Sino-African Forum. The Senegalese Prime Ministers and Foreign Minister have also visited China, as have other important delegations from Senegal. Other Chinese officials are also currently visiting Senegal.

Beyond that, China and African countries are consulting and coordinating in many international agencies including the United Nations.

The two sides are also friendly at the civilian level. Many Chinese companies have been actively helping Senegal to the satisfaction of the country in terms of infrastructure, agriculture and culture. Also, many Chinese work and live in Senegal, living harmoniously with their local brothers and sisters.

The two peoples have the same way of life. The Chinese are very modest, and the Senegalese appreciate this because we are also humble and modest. Even when some traders complain products made in China are being dumped at cheaper prices, it is the Senegalese people who defend Chinese products because their living costs become lower.

As long as bilateral ties are based on mutual respect, the relations will go a long way. The two countries are happy to be together, and both China and Senegal wish to accomplish a lot more.

Ambassador of Senegal to the People's Republic of China

Lu Shaye

Exchange visits between Sino-African leaders are more frequent than at any stage in history, and President Hu Jintao's visit to Senegal and three other African countries will bring the exchanges to a higher level.

Increasing exchanges between China and Africa have deepened China's influence among African countries and become a stable mechanism. These are the result of the active diplomatic role China has played in the region.

Through the first state visit of President Hu Jintao to Senegal, the two countries will explore new opportunities for development in Africa.

Some Western observers have viewed China's prominence in the region as "neo-colonialism". But seen from another angle, China's influence in Africa has brought about obvious results.

But it is not wise to either ignore these negative views or be confined by them. Whether China's existence in Africa is positive should be looked at in two respects: whether it is helpful to improve Sino-African relations; and whether it is helpful to the development of African countries.

To some degree, China's existence in Africa has changed the landscape of the region. Previously, it was Western countries trying to secure their interests. Now, with China's role, a kind of monopoly by Western countries has been broken. What's more, China's existence has introduced new development opportunities for Africa.

Senegal, for example, hosts more than a dozen Chinese companies and in excess of 1,600 Chinese workers. The biggest fishing company in Senegal is a joint venture between a Chinese fund and a local counterpart. China's technology companies have also helped local governments to build Internet-based networks.

Using funds and loans to local governments, Senegal will build their own National Theater, National Museum and stadiums in each of its 11 regions nationwide. A bus manufacturer from Xiamen, Fujian province will also help the local authority to build its own fleet.

Some 15 Chinese doctors are volunteering in Dakar and a group of Chinese agricultural experts.

China also helped Senegal train talents across different sectors. About 100 positions at top Chinese universities are reserved for students from Senegal each year.

We cannot deny that some Chinese companies still need to pay close attention to their practices in labor contracts, work safety and environmental protection.

But potential areas of development will include civilian sectors, such as real estate and agricultural projects. China will also continue to finance infrastructure.

Ambassador of China to the Republic of Senegal

(China Daily 02/13/2009 page8)