China keen to cooperate with West in Africa
Updated: 2012-01-12 07:16
By Li Liangxing (China Daily)
BEIJING - China is open to trilateral cooperation with the West and the international community in Africa, based on Africa's consent, to enhance local development, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday.
Lu Shaye, director-general of the Department of African Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, said Western countries have proposed trilateral cooperation with China in Africa many times, and China is willing to cooperate with the international community to enhance Africa's development.
"The trilateral cooperation must be based on each side's interests and have Africa's consent," he said.
"The most fundamental thing is that the cooperation must benefit Africa's development and benefit the efficiency and effectiveness of the international community's cooperation on Africa. Besides, the three sides in the cooperation must be equal."
Deng Yanting, a researcher on African studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said this stance indicates that China is not opposed to Western countries' interests in Africa.
"It's not a zero-sum game in Africa that China's growing influence means the West's decreases. China is just one of the participants in the continent, and it can be a competitor and a partner with Western countries," he said.
He added that trilateral cooperation based on equality shows an increase in Africa's international status and that African nations can cooperate with outside forces without being treated as colonies.
Lu said what China has done in Africa is far from "neocolonialism", noting that some Africans have sharply complained that the West is "recolonizing" Africa.
"In African countries, we build road, bridges, hospitals and schools and we buy African resources and increase their value to benefit them more," said Lu.
He added that China doesn't intervene in any country's internal affairs or impose its own culture and values on Africa, but communicates with them on an equal basis so both sides can learn from each other.
"We support African countries protecting their sovereignty and solving their own problems," he said.
He added the cooperation between the two sides is a type of strategic partnership featuring political equality and mutual trust, win-win economic cooperation and cultural exchanges.
"Africa's development depends on its own right to develop, as what is good for you may not be suitable for Africa," he said.
Since the summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2006, China has fulfilled its promises to help and cooperate with African countries in various aspects including climate change, environmental protection, debt reduction and enlarging markets.
"FOCAC and its results have been fruitful and greatly enhanced bilateral relationships, and it has become a platform for collective communication between China and Africa and an effective means of practical cooperation," he said, adding that the forum has a prominent international influence.
He said the biggest difficulty for Africa is development, noting that its food crisis could only be resolved by development.
"China will continue providing food aid to Africa but will focus on agricultural cooperation to help improve agricultural productivity, so Africa can resolve its food security problem," he said.
He said that, for China, helping Africa is an international responsibility and would not affect China's own poverty reduction efforts.
"According to traditional Chinese culture, the poor should help each other, while you should serve the world when you succeed," he added.
According to Lu, Africa has backed China in many ways, and China's aid to Africa can win more friends.
According to Lu, challenges to the development of future bilateral relations come from both China and the international community.
He said China should stick to the principle of equality and mutual respect.
Western countries' jealousy of the current China-Africa relationship and misunderstanding among the African public due to Western media influence are also challenges ahead.
"Africa's relationships with China and other major countries are interconnected and interactive, and we must handle them well," he added.
Deng from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said Western influence is deeply rooted in every aspect of Africa, and China needs a long time to enhance its communication with it to balance some negative impressions.