OPINION: Be Alert of the Trap to Sabotage China-Africa Cooperation

By H.E. Ambassador Lin Songtian Time of article published Feb 9, 2018

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JOHANNESBURG - It is regrettable that the French newspaper, Le Monde, recently published an article which accuses China of wiretapping the AU headquarters.

The article further maliciously claims that China has been transmitting computer data from the Chinese-built AU headquarters to a server in Shanghai every night since 2012, and that this was only found out by the African side last year.

We are not at all surprised by such a completely fabricated report from Le Monde and other western media. In fact, we think such a report doesn't even deserve a response, because the Chinese people know too well what these media are up to.

We are very happy to see that, in the days following this false report, Prime Minister Hailemariam of Ethiopia, chairperson Moussa Faki of the AU Commission, and many other African leaders have stepped up to reject and condemn the report.

Unfortunately, a small number of African media still went ahead to play up the story. For China, it is not the story itself, but the fact that some of our African media friends have easily fallen into the trap and followed the Western suit without seeking truth from the fact, that is particularly hurtful.

For China, this is the gravest harm to the sincere and selfless assistance from the Chinese government and people to Africa. And it is the gravest disrespect to China's firm commitment to the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith in developing relations and cooperation with Africa.

It is known to all that China and Africa have always been good brothers through thick and thin. In the 1960s and 1970s, in order to support Africa's national liberation and political independence, the Chinese people tightened their belts to build the Tanzania-Zambia railway.

Sixty-five sons and daughters of China sacrificed their lives for this railway construction and have forever remained on this continent.

China, as the world's largest developing country, has always stood shoulder-to-shoulder with its African brothers and sisters, and has supported all friendly African countries to the best of its ability.

According to incomplete statistics, China has helped Africa build over 80 sports stadiums, more than 200 schools, and 20 parliamentary buildings. China has financed and built over 6 500 km of railways, over 6 000 km of roads, 70 plus power plants, and tens of airports, seaports, and government buildings.

What China has done has played a unique and important role in supporting Africa to realize self-sustainable development. Among these projects, the building complex of the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, completed in 2011, is particularly worth mentioning as a gift from the Chinese people to the African people, and as a major effort of China to support African integration and unity for strength.

This request to build this modern building complex on the African continent was made by the African Union and friendly African countries, and marks another symbol of China-Africa friendship in the new century.

Since taking office, Chinese President Xi Jinping has clearly instructed us that, in conducting China's relations with Africa, we must adhere to the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith, and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests.

The essence of this instruction is to closely combine China's self-development and Africa's realization of self-sustainable development, so as to realize win-win cooperation for common development.

In an effort to support Africa to break through the three development bottlenecks, namely, inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel, and a shortage of financial resources, during the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit in December 2015, President Xi Jinping announced China-Africa Ten Major Cooperative Plans with a commitment of 60 billion US dollars of financial support to help Africa accelerate industrialization and agricultural modernization.

Thanks to our joint efforts, remarkable progress has been made in the implementation of the outcomes of the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit. With over 100 billion direct Chinese investment and financing in Africa, China-Africa cooperation is demonstrating encouraging and robust momentum of growth.

Today, China is Africa's largest trading partner and major investor. In the first half of 2017, two-way trade between China and Africa has moved against downward pressure and registered a significant growth of 19%, totalling 85.3 billion US dollars.

China has become Africa's most important investor in infrastructure development. A large number of flagship projects including the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, Mombasa–Nairobi Railway, and the Abuja-Kaduna Rail in Nigeria have all been completed and entered into service.

China-Africa production capacity cooperation is also moving forward rapidly with 4 pilot African countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and the Republic of Congo and with over 10 major production capacity cooperation countries, which include South Africa, Zambia, Uganda and Nigeria.

As large numbers of Chinese investors rush into Africa, numerous jobs have been created for the local people. Today, China-Africa cooperation is taking up a renewed momentum of growth, bringing benefits to and winning support from all sectors of the African society.

China strongly believes that, without economic independence, there will never be true political independence. That is why we have made it the Chinese government's political commitment and correct choice to sincerely and earnestly help African countries realize economic independence and then achieve complete political independence.

Our pursuit of equality, mutual trust, and mutually beneficial cooperation is the fundamental characteristics and the unique strength of China's policy towards Africa. In working with its African brothers, China never attaches any political strings, never makes others do things against their will, never interferes with others' domestic affairs, and never makes empty promises to its African brothers.

China has never had any problems in exchanging information with African brothers and sisters, and therefore has absolutely no need to resort to such despicable and disgraceful moves used by certain countries to gather information from others. Maybe the Western media have forgotten that all the computers in the AU building carry chips that are made and controlled by the West, out of China's ability to maneouvre.

Unfortunately, certain countries want to keep Africa as it was, always trapped in poverty, conflicts and instability, so that they can continue colonizing, controlling and manipulating Africa.

They themselves don't want to help Africa realize durable peace and self-sustainable development. Even worse, they don't want China and other countries to help Africa. Those countries are deeply nervous about, and frustrated by, China's massive scale efforts to support Africa to realize self-sustainable development.

That is why they have resorted to the tools of media to fabricate lies, to mislead and manipulate the public opinion. Their intention is clear: to discourage the Chinese efforts and commitment to Africa, to derail Africa's efforts for self-sustainable development, to divide and disrupt China-Africa cooperation, and to eventually weaken and divide Africa.

This is also why Le Monde has chosen such calculated timing during the AU Summit to run the story, the ulterior motive of which is all too clear.

It is necessary to point out that, to uphold sound China-Africa cooperation serves the fundamental development interests of the African countries and the African people. As witnesses, recorders, and storytellers of China-Africa cooperation, the African media friends have for many years played an irreplaceable role in consolidating friendship and promoting cooperation between China and Africa.

The West has always viewed China and Africa through a coloured lens, and has always tried to smear and to cast China-Africa cooperation in a negative light. With their incurable political bias, it is simply unrealistic to expect Western media to tell the real and truthful stories, still less, the good and positive stories on China, Africa and China-Africa cooperation.

Failing to understand such basic reality and to blindly follow the Western suit would make African media easy victims of the West. In the end, what it harms is not only China's image, but also Africa's fundamental and long-term development interests.

As Africa's true friend and reliable development partner, China will never do anything against the interest of the African countries and the African people. It is our sincere hope that friends from the African media can travel around the continent to places like Addis Ababa and see for themselves what China has been doing in Africa, and what those countries that are frightened by China-Africa cooperation have been doing in Africa.

Seeing is believing.

It's expected that the African media will not dance to the music of others' and fall into the trap of the lies made by the Western media. By doing so, innocent African people will be misled and the warm enthusiasm and sincere feelings of the Chinese government and the Chinese people towards Africa will be deeply hurt.

We sincerely hope that our African journalist friends can leverage your own unique strengths to tell real and vivid stories of China-Africa friendship and win-win cooperation for common development.

I have strong confidence and belief in you to be powerful champions for China-Africa friendship and great defenders of the shared interests of China-Africa cooperation.

H.E. Ambassador Lin Songtian is the Peoples’ Republic of China’s ambassador to South Africa

* The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Independent Group


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