[Strategic Partners] Strategic

发布时间:2020-03-26 来源: 短文摘抄 点击:

     FAST FRIENDS: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni with members of a Chinese performing troupe after a performance in Kampala June 23
  For Chinese diplomacy, this is “Africa year.” Following the visits of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao started his eight-day visit to seven African countries on June 17. “Africa year” will continue in the second half of this year with the third ministerial conference and the first summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to be held in Beijing in November.
  “The role of high-level exchange visits in boosting the Sino-African relationship is irreplaceable. President Hu and Premier Wen visited 10 African countries in two months. These two visits are important to show China’s new generation of leadership in Africa,” said He Wenping, Director of the Africa Department of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
  Early this year, the Chinese Government issued China’s African Policy white paper, widely regarded as China’s latest strategy on Africa. The white paper, for the first time, illustrated China’s comprehensive policy toward Africa in the form of a government document, noting that China would “establish and develop a new type of strategic partnership with Africa, featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchange.” In April, President Hu visited Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya and less than two months later, Premier Wen embarked on his Africa trip.
  According to He, the seven African countries Premier Wen visited have been chosen carefully. Starting from Egypt in the northern part of the continent, he traveled to Ghana in the west, the Republic of Congo in central west, Angola in the southwest, South Africa in the south, and Tanzania and Uganda in the east. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-Egyptian diplomatic relations and Wen chose Egypt to be his first stop.
  Long relations
  PAST SACRIFICES: The Chinese premier lays a wreath at the Dar-es-Salaam graves of Chinese experts who died in the 1970s during their work in Tanzania
  China is the world’s largest developing country and Africa is a continent with the largest number of developing countries. Since late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai invoked the spirit of seeking commonalities while reserving differences at the Asian-African Conference held at Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955, China has been maintaining close high-level contacts with African countries.
  “The friendship between China and African countries is known as a ‘traditional friendly relationship’ with frequent high-level exchange visits,” said Cui Yongqian, former Ambassador to Central Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  In the 50 years of China-Africa diplomatic relations, the two sides have seen more than 800 high-level visits with Chinese leaders and foreign ministers visiting Africa more than 160 times and 524 leaders and foreign ministers or officials of higher ranking from 51 African countries visiting China more than 676 times.
  High-level exchanges greatly boost the friendship and mutual trust between China and African nations in seeking mutually beneficial cooperation for common development. “Chinese leaders see the maintaining of the Sino-African relationship as an important task for us diplomats,” said Cui.
  African nations have strongly supported China’s resumption of its legitimate status in the United Nations and are persistent supporters of China on the Taiwan and human rights issues. On China’s part, it has supported African countries’ reasonable requirements and backed Africa’s economic rejuvenation and development.
  Before the 1990s, China’s support to Africa’s economic development was mainly in the form of free assistance. In the 1960s and 1970s, China provided aid for the construction of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway, a typical project of Sino-African friendship. In October 1970, more than 10,000 Chinese railway constructors went to Africa after spending several months traveling by boat and spent nearly six years to construct the 1,860-km-long railway connecting Tanzania and Zambia. China spent approximately 1 billion yuan and lost more than 60 Chinese lives on this project.
  China also assisted African countries in constructing textile mills, hydropower plants, stadiums, hospitals and schools, totaling nearly 900 projects in the past 50 years.
  In addition, China has sent medical teams to Africa, totaling 240 million man-hours in 43 African nations.
  Trade cooperation
  NEW GENERATION: Premier Wen shares a moment with students of the Chinese language at a high school during his visit to Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo, June 20
  The relationship between China and Africa has changed greatly in the past two decades and the spirit of a market economy has come to dominate Sino-African economic and trade exchanges, replacing the former unilateral aid from China.
  “It’s bad to live on aid now or to beg for handouts. We have to tap our potential for economic cooperation, which is mutually beneficial,” Ethiopia’s Ambassador to China Hail-Kiros Gessesse told Beijing Review.
  Economic and trade cooperation is a key factor and is playing an increasingly important role in bilateral relations.
  “With the development of Sino-African economic cooperation, the role of enterprises on both sides is increasing, exceeding the role of our traditional diplomatic channels,” said Cui.
  With China’s rapid economic development, an increasing number of Chinese entrepreneurs are investing in Africa in various fields and engaging in mutually beneficial cooperation with their African counterparts. By 2005, China’s foreign direct investment in Africa totaled $1.18 billion with more than 800 Chinese enterprises established in Africa. Such cooperation not only promotes African economic development, but also boosts local employment.
  Meanwhile, China has also increased its imports from Africa, leading to a trade surplus and increased foreign exchange earnings for Africa. From January 1, 2005, China has imposed zero tariffs on 190 African products from nearly 30 least developed African countries, leading to a doubling of African exports last year. According to the Tanzanian newspaper Daily News, China’s preferential policy toward Africa led to the country’s export volume to China increasing by 150.1 percent last year.
  Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that bilateral trade between China and Africa reached $39.74 billion in the fiscal year of 2005, up 35 percent year on year. China exported goods worth $18.68 billion and imported goods worth $21.06 billion, with the trade surplus on the African side reaching $2.38 billion.
  ROAD TO THE FUTURE: The visiting Chinese premier with local children at the inauguration of a highway project funded with a $28 million soft loan from China in Accra, capital of Ghana, June 19
  During Wen’s visit to South Africa, the two countries signed 13 agreements on cooperation in a wide range of fields such as politics, economy, trade, national defense, agriculture, technology and sciences. Meanwhile, China voluntarily agreed to restrict its textile exports to South Africa, making it the first nation to offer such a commitment to promote economic development on the continent.
  “This move marks a substantial effort of the Chinese Government in materializing its pledge of considering the economic development needs of African trade partners,” said Liu Naiya, Associate Research Fellow with the Western Asia and Africa Studies Institute of the CASS, adding that no other country had ever initiated a similar self-restrictive deal benefiting only its trading partners.
  Premier Wen and his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Nazif presided over the signing of an agreement to establish a joint venture industrial park near the Suez Canal. China will pitch in $50 million in loans and $10 million in government subsidy for the park. This move will further facilitate China’s utilization of the Suez Canal, an important water channel to bring European and African products to Asia.
  According to Britain’s Financial Times, China has currently exceeded Britain and became Africa’s third largest trade partner after the United States and France.
  “This is the most sudden change in world trade after the end of colonization in Africa,” said Song Zhiyong, Deputy Director of the Asian-African Studies Institute of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce in an interview with China Business Post. He added that in order to cope with this change, his institute was preparing a new trading strategy toward Africa for the Ministry of Commerce.
  Energy issue
  UNCONDITIONAL AID: Premier Wen donates pharmaceuticals from China to a hospital in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo, June 20
  Energy cooperation is one of the most important areas of Sino-African cooperation. “Sino-African energy cooperation will exert a positive influence on Africa,” said He. She noted that African countries could multiply their funding sources for energy investments and stop to rely on Western powers. China can also move to tap oil in regions with adverse circumstances, where Western companies do not want to venture.
  Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that about 28 percent of China’s oil imports were from Africa in 2005, an indicator that China is reducing its oil dependence on the Middle East and multiplying its energy sources. Chinese oil enterprises have invested several billion U.S. dollars in tapping oil in Nigeria, Sudan and Angola and signed exploration agreements with the Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.
  Angola exported oil worth $6.58 billion to China in 2005, accounting for 14 percent of China’s oil imports. It is now China’s second largest oil supplier after Saudi Arab and its second largest trade partner in Africa, next only to South Africa.
  According to Petromatrix GmbH, a Swiss risk management company, Angola shipped more than 456,000 barrels of crude oil daily during the first two month this year, becoming China’s largest crude oil supplier. Angola is Africa’s second largest oil producer, next only to Nigeria. Its daily production in 2007 is expected to reach 2 million barrels.
  “Different from Western enterprises, Chinese enterprises not only tap energy resources, but also increase investments for local basic infrastructure construction and launch cooperation with locals in agriculture, power generation and telecommunications,’’ said He.
  In May, China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. and Angola’s Sonangol signed a contract worth $1.4 billion to tap three offshore oil sections in Angola. Total oil reserves there are expected to exceed 3 billion barrels. It is expected that production will reach 100,000 barrels a day next year. Meanwhile, China gave a loan of $3 billion to Angola to repair its basic infrastructure destroyed in its long drawn-out civil war. China also helped Angola construct a 1,300-km long railway connecting its western coastal city Benguela to its eastern region, which is rich in mining resources.
  Experts say that except for Nigeria, none of the African oil producers are OPEC members and they are not subject to OPEC production quotas. Besides Angola and Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea are also among China’s top 10 oil suppliers. According to Xia Yishan, senior researcher with the China Institute of International Studies, Africa is now China’s largest overseas quota oil supplier.
  “China will in the future further enhance its energy cooperation with African countries, including Angola, based on equality and mutual benefit. Such cooperation is only a part of broader China-Africa friendly cooperation and will not influence any third party,” said the Chinese premier during his talks with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos in Luanda June 20.
  Not neo-colonialism
  Premier Wen’s African trip also came in for some criticism. Some countries said China was practicing “neo-colonialism” in African countries. Wen denied these allegations at a press conference in Egypt.
  “You can never label China as ‘neo-colonialist.’ From the Opium War in 1840, China has suffered colonialist aggression for almost 110 years. The Chinese nation understands the sufferings brought about by colonialism and is deeply aware that we must fight against colonialism. That is one major reason that we have long been supporting the national liberation and rejuvenation of Africa,” said Wen.
  “China’s policy on Africa is misunderstood by Western countries,” said Xu Weizhong, Director of African Studies Divi-sion of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR). To some Western countries, China seems to have taken a sudden interest in Africa because of oil. This is not true, said Xu. The friendship between China and Africa has developed over more than half a century. From 1991, it has become an unwritten rule that the Chinese foreign minister’s first formal visit shall be Africa. “It is baseless for some Western media to criticize China’s aid to Africa as temporary activities or activities with a purpose,” Xu said.
  Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei has said that China’s cooperation with African nations is on a win-win basis and energy cooperation is only one part of economic and trade cooperation. Xu from CICIR added that China cooperates not only with African countries with abundant energy resources, but also with countries that do not have such resources.
  According to Xu, China does not have any historical disputes with African countries or conflicts of fundamental interests. China’s aid, investments and cooperative projects in Africa are all common economic activities of fully sovereign nations; they are business exchanges carrying mutual benefits, which can boost economic development of both parties, especially African countries mired in poverty.
  “It was China’s assistance to Africa several decades ago that helped establish the solid friendship between China and Africa,” said Xu, adding that China’s economic aid to African countries with no strings attached was highly valued by African governments and peoples.
  “It’s our rights--the right of China and the right of Africa--to choose our partners, and nobody in Europe or in America should try to judge that relationship,” said Christopher Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwean Ambassador to China.
  According to Xu, the core element of colonialism was control of political resources and monopoly of the economic lifeline of colonies. “China’s relationship with African countries is nothing like that. Non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs is China’s persistent principle. How can China be accused of neo-colonialism?” asked Xu.
  “The rhetoric is just another form of the ‘China threat.’ Seeing China’s growing influence in Africa, some countries think their interests in Africa are threatened. Thus, it is not strange to see European and American media criticizing China’s African policy as neo-colonialism,” said Zeng Qiang, a researcher with CICIR.

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