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China proposes renewed cooperation with Africa

Pledges USD 250 million for peacekeeping, food aid

During a visit to Ethiopia early this week, Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China said that China wants to engage African countries in five major areas of cooperation. Planning, designing and coordinating of developmental projects have been outlined as the central strategies.

Speaking Tuesday at the opening of the two-day China-Africa High-Level Dialogue and Think Thank Forum the African Union Commission (AUC) organized together with the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University of China, Yi outlined that in addition to streamlining development strategies between African states and China, peacekeeping and security measures are essential areas his country would like to work together with Africa.

For that to take effect along with existing contributions, China has pledged USD 100 million to back peace-keeping missions the AU has undertaken. He added that current military and technical cooperation would be strengthened. Meanwhile, he urged the UN to do more.

As regards public health, Foreign Minister Yi said that China is geared to help Africa to battle disease outbreaks, reminding the forum that such cooperation is essential when the continent experiences the scourge of Ebola and other epidemics. Along that line, China is committed to establishing five regional disease control centers, Yi said. Both Africa and China, according to Yi, need to speak a common language at multilateral and international forums. He went on to say that China would provide assistance in the area of capacity building. In addition to government scholarships, China is poised to grant technical and vocational skills development training for 100,000 more African youth, Yi said. He also unveiled plans for scholarship programs for some 30,000 civil servants  and for 40,000 youth to undergo technical training. Since 2015, 20,000 government scholarships and 100,000 professional skills development trainings have been offered across countries in Africa.  Considering food aid and emergency assistance, the foreign minister pledged that his government has made arrangements to offer some USD 150 million for 20 African countries that are struggling with food security.

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Referring to President Xi Jinping’s new book, “Up and Out of Poverty,” Yi urged African leaders to devise policies and strategies which underline local needs than to copy and paste from elsewhere.

Reflecting on China’s outward-looking commitment for cooperation with Africa, Mussa Faki Mahmat, chairperson of the AUC, said that Africa has enjoyed ever-strengthening relations with China since 2008 when the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was launched. He recalled China’s pledge of USD 60 billion for Africa’s infrastructural development.

Arkebe Oqubay (PhD), coordinator for economic planning, monitoring and support at the Office of the Prime Minister, as one of the high-level plenary speakers narrated how Ethiopia was following in the footsteps of China in fighting and alleviating poverty. “I went to China many times and mostly I went carrying my ordinary passport to see the actual work on the ground. I usually try to avoid visiting Beijing. If you wish to learn from the ground up, please don’t go to Beijing”, Arkebe advised the African audience at the forum.

Both FOCAC and the highly publicized and ambitious “One Belt One Road” intercontinental infrastructural project have been praised for contributing to Africa’s needs. The Addis-Djibouti Railroad together with the Nairobi-Mombasa routes have been highlighted as contributing to fruitful cooperation of China with Africa. So far, 6,200km railways, 5,200km roadways along with expansive telecom and other projects, which Wang Yi considers as the major projects cementing the relations of the two sides in the future, have been undertaken.

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