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China plays responsible role in co-op with Africa

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-03-23 12:50

BEIJING - China has played a responsible role in cooperation with Africa as China's engagement in the continent has not only helped Africa's economy leapfrog but also boosted its self-reliance.

Since the Bandung meeting in 1955, which marked the beginning of Sino-African cooperation, China and Africa have developed an equal partnership, in which cooperation has benefited both sides and created a promising win-win scenario.

Currently, China has surpassed the United States as Africa's largest trading partner. Data from China's National Bureau of Statistics showed that bilateral trade soared from $10 billion in 2000 to $166 billion in 2011.

Tanzania, South Africa, and the Republic of the Congo are the three African countries that newly elected Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit on his first overseas trip after he took office.

China has become Tanzania's largest trading partner and its second-largest source of investment. Bilateral trade reached 2.47 billion dollars last year, up 15.2 percent year on year, Chinese vice-Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said Wednesday.

China-South Africa trade reached 59.9 billion dollars last year, nearly one-third of the total trade between China and Africa as a whole, Zhai said.

Besides, under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) set up in 2000, China has offered soft loans worth more than 15 billion dollars to Africa.

China has built a network of trade, aid and investment, with over 2,000 Chinese companies of different types operating in 50 African countries, then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in July 2012.

Many economists and experts believed that China's direct investment and aid have become a strong propelling force for the continent's rapid and stable economic growth.

Ranked as the poorest continent in the world, Africa has posted strong growth rates of about 5 percent in recent years, second only to Asia, and the figure could rise to 7 percent by 2015, according to the United Nations Development Program.

Between 2001 and 2010, according to The Economist magazine, six of the world's 10 fastest growing economies were in Africa.

Joseph Edozien, chairman of the South African New Economic Foundation, told Xinhua in early March that on the basis of the maintenance of their traditional friendship, the relationship between China and Africa has also developed into one featuring "mutual economic and commercial interests."

Moreover, Africa is enjoying an infrastructure bonanza as Chinese companies have undertaken more infrastructure construction projects across the continent.

Tanzania signed a contract last July with Chinese companies to immediately start construction of a 542 km pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam. The project will cost 1.86 trillion Tanzanian shillings (1.2 billion dollars), funded by a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China.

Government figures showed that Chinese firms have built more than 3,000 km of roads, over 2,000 km of railway, pipelines and ports in Africa by August 2011, changing the face of Africa that was once branded the "Dark Continent."

China is not just doing "blood transfusion," but also helping the fast-emerging continent improve its own "blood-making capability."

Figures from the fifth FOCAC ministerial meeting last July showed China has helped local communities build some 100 schools, 30 hospitals and 20 agri-tech demonstration centers across the African continent.

An agricultural technologies demonstration center in the Republic of the Congo, fully funded by China, has set a good example of China's efforts to help African countries increase their production capacity.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, the country's Agriculture Minister Rigobert Maboundou praised the center for achieving the goals of training, scientific research and obtaining advanced agricultural skills.

In order to narrow educational quality gap on the continent, China launched an 8-million-dollar program in November 2012 with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization to support educational development in Africa.

China has so far trained some 40,000 technicians for African countries, and at the fifth FOCAC ministerial meeting, then Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged to send 1,500 medical personnel to Africa, implement the "African Talent Program" to train 30,000 personnel in various sectors, offer 18,000 scholarships and build cultural and vocational training facilities in Africa.

The 50 years of cooperation between the world's largest developing country and the fast-emerging continent has proved that Chinese people have put African countries at the helm of their own development, just as South African expert Edozien said that the relationship between China and Africa has been a non-exploitative and peer-to-peer one.

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