Upgrading African ties

Updated: 2014-05-06 07:35

(China Daily)

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Half a century ago, then-chinese premier Zhou Enlai's first visit to Africa laid the cornerstones of the Sino-African relationship as good friends, good brothers and good partners.

Premier Li Keqiang's ongoing four-nation visit, also his personal first to Africa, is aimed at an "upgraded version" of the fraternal ties that have been forged.

During his visit to Africa in 2013, President Xi Jinping put forward the concept of a "Sino-African community of shared destiny". He pledged to always treat African countries with "honesty, truthfulness, affinity and sincerity".

Li's mission is to translate these words into tangible projects and agreements.

Nearly 60 documents of cooperation and development aid are due to be signed during Li's weeklong trip, showing trade and investment are a significant aspect of the "upgraded version" of Sino-African relationship.

Given the mutually complementary structures and comparative advantages of the Chinese and African economies, especially Chinese efforts to boost African exports, the potential for further headway is tremendous. And the fine momentum that has been achieved will hardly be impeded by envious accusations of Chinese "neo-colonialism" and "exploitation" of African resources.

Not because Premier Li has vowed that China won't pursue a colonialist path, or allow colonialism to reappear in Africa. But because China has always treated Africa the way President Xi proposed.

In this country's collective memories, it was the selfless support of friendly African countries that guaranteed the People's Republic's legal representation at the United Nations in 1971.

Each aid program carried out, each medical team dispatched, each Chinese-financed landmark erected, including the $200-million headquarters of the African Union, where Premier Li spoke on Sino-African ties on Monday, is a sign of Chinese gratitude.

And never has China been more concerned about the social and environmental consequences of its presence in Africa. While calling on Chinese companies operating in Africa to assume due responsibility for local communities, the Chinese government is helping Africa cultivate the indigenous growth potential. Under the framework of the Sino-African Cooperation Forum, this country has exempted more than 4,000 items of African exports from tariffs and quotas, effectively correcting the previous imbalance in bilateral trade.

Problems are inevitable in interactions of such scale. But with Premier Li's promise to address the "growing pains", we have reason to believe Chinese companies operating in Africa will be more aware of their roles, better regulate themselves, and contribute more to the future of brotherly ties.