Sino-Africa relations -One-way traffic
African scholars attending an international conference in China have described Africa-China relationship as a ‘one-way traffic,’ and urged their leaders to position themselves firmly and strategically, as equal partners, in their dealings with China.
That, they said, would make Africa derive maximum benefits from its relationship with China.
The scholars argued that Africa must learn from their bitter experience in their interactions with the Western world which was based on the master-servant relationship, a situation which had culminated in Africa being the losers.
Professor El-Khidir Daloum, the Director of Programmes for Africa at Saferworld, a Sudanese think tank, and Mr James Shikwati, Director of Inter-Regional Economic Network (IREN) based in Kenya, were speaking at the International Conference on Governance and Development; experiences of China and African countries, in Beijing, China on Wednesday.
It was organised by the Institute for International Strategic Studies of the Central Committee of the Chinese People’s Party (CCPS) and the Zhejiang Normal University. The conference attracted scholars from both China and Africa.
Speaking on the topic: ‘China-Africa Co-operation and Africa’s Development’, Prof. Daloum expressed worry that China’s relationship with Africa was a one-way traffic where the former, under the guise of assisting the latter, was sending only processed goods and loans to the continent and taking away its rich natural resources.
Another issue he had with the association was that it was centralised, just between the Government of China and the various governments of Africa, but that, he explained, would not always be beneficial to ordinary Africans whose governments were always seeking their personal, parochial interests and not that of their nationals.
He suggested that African leaders, before entering into any relationship with China, must first prioritise and ensure that they receive technological transfer to add value to their rich, natural resources before exporting them.
Prof. Daloum commended the Chinese for building infrastructure in Africa based on the needs and demands of African countries, a move that he said was unlike what the Westerners did in Africa, and requested that through their construction projects, China must make deliberate efforts to transfer their technology to Africa.
He expressed unhappiness at the silence of the Chinese government on how its resources sent to African countries were being managed by the various governments on the continent, and said the silence of the Chinese government in such matters was worrying.
He said he was not calling on China to interfere in the internal affairs of Africa, but explained that when Africans raised issues about transactions between their governments and China, especially when there was the suspicion of corrupt deals, China must set the records straight and also ensure that monies advanced to African governments were used for their intended purposes.
Dr Shikwati described Africa’s relationship with the West as a ‘board game’ where the Westerners planned and strategically executed such plans in a manner that made Africans the losers through the prescription of economic policies that were inimical to Africa’s growth but beneficial to their economies.
He said the Chinese relationship with Africa had a different model so it was high time Africans also developed their model based on their circumstances, needs and diversities to ensure that Africans benefited from such a relationship.
Dr Shikwati urged Africa to develop its blueprint that would guide her dealings with China and ensure that the continent’s rich natural resources were not just exploited and taken away in their raw state, but value would be added to them to ensure greater profit for Africans.
Opening the conference, the Director of the Institute of International Strategic Studies of CCPS, Prof Han Baojiang, said China’s development in the last 30 years was not based on prescriptions of any bloc or country but ‘we borrowed best practices and experiences and did not copy’ those of other developed and developing nations and tailored such experiences to suit the Chinese conditions.
He said initially, the government and China played an active and critical role in the economic and social transformation, interspersed with gradual opening up of the country to the outside world.
‘Our experience is not mature and our development is not enough,’ he said, and asked African countries not to copy any experience from China hook, line and sinker, but to borrow other experiences and fashion them in a manner that would be conducive for Africa based on its conditions.
Prof. Baojiang said the 21st Century was the time Africa could realise her full potential and experience accelerated development to take most of its people out of poverty, and called for sincerity in the cooperation and exchanges between Africa and China.
‘We should respect each other, and it is for China to learn from Africa. We must deal with each other on equal footing,’ he added.
By Donald Ato Dapatem & Nana K. Agyeman/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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