With the opening of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa
Cooperation, Africa is once again under the spotlight. As many people
hold a prejudiced view toward cooperation and investment between China
and Africa, saying it’s a ‘losing business’ for the Chinese. It’s time
to clarify the misunderstandings about Africa and justify the status quo
of China-Africa cooperation.
Africa doesn’t mean poverty
Talking about Africa, many tend to have stereotypical images like
poverty, backwardness and disease. Due to historical reasons, Africa is a
continent with the largest number of developing countries and a
striking imbalance between different regions. The average income per
person in some countries is relatively low while other countries are
As one of the top three economies in Africa, Nigeria is the
continent’s largest oil producer and the sixth-largest oil exporter in
the world. South Africa, as a mid-level income country, leads the world
in gold and diamond exports, plus many other minerals. Egypt, as one of
the four major ancient civilizations, takes the lead in technology,
tourism, agriculture, industry and service sectors.
When compared with other developed nations, most African countries
still have a long way to go. However, the economic growth rate on the
continent is one of the best globally. Simply saying Africa is poor is a
misconception regarding its development and could have a negative
influence on others who are unwilling to discover its vast potential
China not ‘dropping money’ to Africa
For decades, China has assisted Africa by building thousands of miles
of railways, roads and numerous bridges as well as schools, hospitals,
libraries, and stadiums. While Western media has portrayed such support
as a form of neocolonialism, the iron facts prove the accusations are
Chinese leaders have reiterated that the country will not follow the
colonial ways of the past, and that Africa's development will not be at
the cost of the environment or long-term interests.
The infrastructure projects that China assisted on with Africa have
been controversial as some have even said that China’s assistance is “a
losing business.” In fact, what China has done is neither a business
secret nor random acts of “dropping money.” The country is seeking a new
pattern for South-South cooperation across the globe.
Despite the gap in income created by the acceleration of
globalization, China and the African countries they work with have built
an example of inclusive cooperation in which both sides will never be
Sino-Africa cooperation is not a form of one-way aid. A small
proportion and cooperation in investment make up the majority. By
enhancing investment cooperation, China can help Africa speed up the
process of industrialization, helping more Chinese equipment and
products enter the African market.
China not only wins friendship and does the right thing by helping
Africa, but also creates substantial benefits for itself. Though there
are no political strings attached to the projects between China and
Africa, many African countries still use their actions to return the
The cooperation between China and Africa is inclined to be mutually
beneficial. China offers development loans to resource-rich nations,
like Angola, and helps Angola connect ports and railways to the
Democratic Republic of Congo, which helps with the export of oil,
copper, gold and other commodities.
China gets on the priority list when purchasing mineral resources
from Angola. As for Ethiopia, more than 80 percent of the country’s
infrastructure projects are contracted to Chinese enterprises.
As investment and trade surge simultaneously, China is sharing
capital, experience, technology, and talent with African countries.
With major infrastructure projects complete or under construction,
the continent has developed a stronger capacity to pursue a green and
prosperous future. More jobs are available, and a better quality of life
is on the horizon as poverty will continue to decline.
In 1971, Africans and representatives from other developing countries
helped China take its legitimate seat as the People's Republic of China
at the United Nations. In 2008, after the Wenchuan earthquake, African
countries generously offered support by donating money and sending
Smaller countries with a population under 2 million donated a few
million euros to China, 1 euro per person. More than half of the
countries that supported China’s stance in upholding the sovereignty of
the South China Sea are from Africa.
The brotherhood between China and African countries is not a matter
of money that can be solely evaluated on a material basis. We should
often reflect on the past and while at the same time look forward to the
future of China-Africa cooperation.
Both sides have joined hands to develop a more inclusive path that
can lead to win-win results which will help other developing nations
participate in the global industrial chain so they too can have a bumper