Conference Special: Developing relationship: China, Africa share lessons
Updated: 2012-07-14 08:02
By Zhang Zhao (China Daily)
State Councilor Dai Bingguo (right) and former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo attend the forum on China-Africa financial cooperation held in Beijing on July 13.
Representatives of African nations listen attentively at the forum.
The opening ceremony of the forum on China-Africa financial cooperation, which is a part of the General Meeting of Shareholders of the African Export-Import Bank.
At a forum on China-Africa financial cooperation held in Beijing on July 13, government officials and economists called on China and Africa to share experiences gained through the course of development.
The meeting is part of the ongoing General Meeting of of shareholders of the African Export-Import Bank, commonly known as Afreximbank.
Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, said that China's development experiences "are lessons for Africa". Finding an independent model of development that suits its internal and international context is one of the most important of these lessons, he said.
He said China has chosen its own path in terms of its political and economic systems, and "like China, Africa must be the architect of its own fortune and development, and then, others can help".
"Africa must learn the lesson of strength in unity and science through integration. Our emphasis must be on integration and investment," he said.
The former president also pointed out that "looking at the lessons, we must first of all find the differences between China and Africa".
"China is seen as a growing world power, on which watchful eyes of competitors from global space and power are set," he said. "Africa is generally regarded as the poorest continent in the world, and it seems to be unsure on how best to handle its poverty."
Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo agreed with Obasanjo, saying that African nations should "walk on their own paths based on their actual situation, and at the same time, (they) need help from the world outside Africa".
He said Africa is "a continent of great potential in the 21st century". Closer China-Africa cooperation conforms to the fundamental interests of both sides and is good for global peace and development.
Dai proposed a number of aspects in which China and Africa should strengthen their partnership, including mutual trust in politics, economic cooperation and cultural exchanges.
One of the key reasons why China has maintained such a high level of performance throughout the recent financial crisis is the nation's fusion of a state-controlled economy and a market economy, said Lim Mah-Hui, a senior finance and economics advisor at South Center, an intergovernmental organization of developing countries headquartered in Geneva.
He said that former Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji created the best combination of state planning and market reforms, which provided "the most important lesson for countries looking for alternatives".
But he also noted that China's development "is not without problems", and three key issues are growth, distribution and sustainability.
Not to copy
Because China and Africa have different environments, the guests at the forum said that sharing experience does not mean exactly copying what the other side is doing.
Sufian Ahmed, Ethiopian minister of finance and economic development, said that Africa is facing four major challenges - innovation in policies, climate change, less-advanced infrastructure, and an imbalanced and unsustainable growth model.
China and Africa "have maintained fast-growing trade and economic ties, with fruitful achievement in many fields of cooperation", said Li Ruogu, president of China Eximbank, a major shareholder of Afreximbank.
China Eximbank has funded nearly 1,000 projects in Africa, with loans totaling nearly 200 billion yuan ($31.4 billion).
In addition to investment and infrastructure financing, he said China can help Africa also by sharing its development experience.
Many of the guests noted that experience includes both "what to do and what not to do".
"It is very good for Africans to know what works and what didn't work, and what we should avoid in our effort to develop our continent and our countries," Ahmed said.
(China Daily 07/14/2012 page7)