Related Articles Commentary Paper SIIS Report
Sep 06 2018
Help African Nations Help Themselves
By Li Weijian

The FOCAC summit in Beijing has charted the course for deeper Sino-African cooperation, among which the eight action plans Xi announced would lead to closer collaboration in various fields including trade, infrastructure construction, financing and people-to-people exchanges.

Thanks to several decades of exchanges with Africa, China has identified one of the major obstacles to African countries' development-over-reliance on outside help-which not only puts their national dignity at stake, but also results in unsustainable development.

So China will now focus more on helping African countries develop independently, by transitioning from being "receivers" to "creators". In this regard, the action plans to promote industrialization and capacity building will especially help African countries to work out solid but feasible economic development frameworks, and develop on their own.

Since setting on the path of major country diplomacy, China has created a number of new diplomatic concepts including building a community with a shared future for mankind.

What the Western countries do not realize, however, is that the virtues and effect of Chinese philosophy would be exemplified once a China-Africa community with a shared future becomes a reality, leading to win-win results for both sides.

For decades, China has been "crossing the river by feeling the stones" in Africa and doesn't want to follow in the footsteps of Western countries. The debt problems some African countries face today are a product of various factors, including the changing economic landscape, domestic economic ills and historical issues.

China's loans to African countries account for only a small percentage of Africa's total debt, and therefore cannot be the root cause of the problem. Chinese investors have put money in only those projects that have passed rigorous feasibility tests from both sides. So where does the question of Chinese loans creating a debt trap for African countries arise?

And for Chinese people opposed to the idea of China providing massive capital support for Africa at the cost of "ignoring domestic issues", they should understand the financing will also benefit China. And as a major country, China should promote fairer global governance within its capacity.

Moreover, the Chinese government has never ignored Chinese people's needs. For instance, last year the government spending on education reached 3 trillion yuan ($439 billion), and the figure is sure to increase in the future. The central government has spent 106 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) this year alone to alleviate poverty. And the aim of these measures is to increase people's welfare and sense of gain.

Source of documents:China Daily, Sep 6