Li opens up new vistas in African ties

Updated: 2014-05-14 07:37

By Ngari Gituku (China Daily)

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Premier Li Keqiang's just concluded four-nation visit to Africa was as profound as it was potentially game changing. From the look of things, Li's first visit to Africa since assuming office in 2013 heralds a completely new, re-invigorated and expanded horizon in Sino-African cooperation.

Never in the annals of diplomacy and development has there been such a swing through Africa as Li's development and cooperation safari. The scope of the tour, particularly in development partnerships and specific projects is a boost to the already burgeoning prospects of Sino-African relations. Li's visit to Africa buttresses the gains accruing from President Xi Jinping's visit to Tanzania, South Africa and Congo in 2013.

Compared with the visits of other countries' leaders, Chinese leaders' visits to Africa have been easily more substantive, mutually beneficial, dignified and fraternal. The biggest achievement of Li's visit is that it was all about development, about real nation building, including at regional neighbourhood levels. The deals struck during his visit will result in groundbreaking projects that will help Africa far into the rest of the 21st century.

The Chinese premier's visit has a significant precedence. Fifty years ago, at a time when most of Africa was shaking off colonial shackles, China's first premier Zhou Enlai visited Africa for the first time. Zhou is best remembered as an expert in foreign policy and economic revolution. Indeed, the pillars upon which Deng Xiaoping's famous economic reforms in China were set bore the marks of Zhou's vision, outlook and achievements.

In a curious déjà vu situation, Li seems to be a chip off the old block and a bridge to a brighter skyline for relations between China and Africa. Zhou's principles of 50 years ago were full of foresight. They included the Chinese tradition of always using the principle of equality and mutual benefit in providing aid to other nations, and China has never attached any conditions or asked for any privileges in return for its aid.

In its development partnerships, China has helped lighten the burden of recipient countries as much as possible by aiming to help them gradually achieve self-reliance and independent development. It focuses on the development of projects that require less investment but yield quicker results, providing the best-quality equipment and materials of its own manufacture.

In providing technical assistance, China ensures the personnel of the recipient country fully master such techniques. Chinese experts are not allowed to make any special demands or enjoy any special amenities.

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