AU discusses negative perception of China investment on the continent

AFRICAN Union member states want the union to come up with stringent measures to curb negative perception that China is slowly colonising Africa through its massive investment on the continent. The member states have expressed concern at the negative perception of Chinese cooperation with Africa.

The Members States are concerned at what they called bashing of Chinese cooperation with Africa from some sectors of the media and some western countries. The States voiced this concern during a forum to review some of the resolutions of the 3rd Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that was themed a New Blue Print for a Win-win Cooperation and Common Development.

Responding to the concerns, adviser on Strategic Partnerships to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nadine Elhakim said China had brought a lot to the African continent than any other partners. She said China took the risk of long term investment in Africa when other partners thought doing so was risky. Dr Elhakim said China was the only partner that had developed a business model on infrastructure as it had a realisation that no meaningful development could be achieved in Africa with poor infrastructure.

She said Africa was in need of in excess of US$100 billion for infrastructure and that China had offered a share of these funds to improve infrastructure in Africa states. Dr Elhakim said the partnership between China and Africa would also see more trade between the two. And Head of Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the African Union, Ambassador Lui Yuxi said the China-Africa partnership was different as it was built on mutual respect and assistance.

He said unlike other partners, China had resolved not to get involved in any African country’s internal affairs but strictly limit its partnership to development. Lui said China-Africa relations were built on win-win cooperation where both Africa and China could mutually benefit from the partnership. He said China did not want to colonise any African state as has been insinuated but wanted to mainly exchange its technological knowhow with African states to transform lives.

Lui said China had concentrated on infrastructure development that included the construction of roads and airports in some African states as it was a belief in China that building roads was a sure way of accelerating economic growth.

“This planet has more than six billion people and China will not allow people to wallow in poverty. That is why we are ready to give what we have and share with the rest of humanity,” he said according to first secretary press and tourism at Zambia’s mission in Ethiopia Inutu Mwanza.

Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Susan Sikaneta said Africa, including Zambia, holds the partnership with China in high esteem. She said China had proved it was an all whether friend to the African continent. Ambassador Sikaneta recalled how in the early years of Zambia’s independence the Ian Smith regime in today’s Zimbabwe and the hostile apartheid regime throttled the Zambian economy by blocking the route to the Indian Ocean in the South.

“This was all because of Zambia’s support of the liberation struggle and the fight against apartheid [in South Africa],” she said.

Ambassador Sikaneta said presidents Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania considered alternative routes to the sea which Zambia needed as an economic lifetime. She recalled that the west appeared willing but were not ready to help unlike China that understood and appreciated the need for “this lifeline” and was willing and ready to help.

“China funded one billion dollars and constructed the TAZARA which helped Zambia’s economic development. We should thank God for the lifelong friendship between China and Zambia and the entire continent of Africa,” Ambassador Sikaneta said.

She said the negative narratives and condemnation of Chinese investment were most unfortunate as China had proved that its vision was to develop Africa through mutual benefit.

Ambassador Sikaneta also praised China for supporting Africa’s peace agenda by providing peace funding and some security equipment to the Africa stand by Force in Cameroon. Ambassador Sikaneta said AU flagship programmes such as Agenda 2063 could only be achieved through a peaceful and stable Africa. And Zimbabwe deputy ambassador to Ethiopia, Winipeg Moyo said the negative publicity and perception about the China-Africa partnership was making the citizenry in many African states to criticise their governments over the cooperation.

She said it was important for African states to do more sensitisation because the citizenry was being misled by those who did not want China to trade with Africa.

President of the Board of Trustees of Centre for Dialogue, Research and Cooperation, CDRC Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin said China’s policy of non-interference in African countries’ internal affairs and its preference to complement Africa’s development within the framework of win-win cooperation and mutual benefits laid a foundation that could not be broken.

He said the importance of the China-Africa relations should be seen in light of the political, economic, financial, diplomatic and social benefits it brought to the people of China and Africa. Ambassador Mesfin said there were no political strings attached to development assistance that China provided to the continent adding that this stands in stark contrasts to historical injustices Africa suffered for several generations.

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