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The dream of a Chinese renaissance

Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) EPA/ERIC FEFERBERG

Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) EPA/ERIC FEFERBERG

Published Dec 2, 2015


#Focac: Johannesburg - Soon after being elected the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) general secretary, President Xi Jinping outlined the concept of the Chinese Dream, describing his wish to promote a Chinese renaissance and a new awakening.

In his first speech at the National People’s Congress, after being declared the President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), President Xi indicated that the objective of the Chinese Dream was to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

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The core of the Chinese dream is national prosperity and rejuvenation along with a better standard of living for the Chinese people. Following 30 years of continuous economic growth, averaging almost 10 percent annually, citizen’s incomes have seen a 30-fold increase, while China accounts for over 70 percent of global poverty alleviation since 1980. Driven by rapid industrialisation and modernisation, China has overcome the difficulties of the past and opened a new and compelling chapter in its history.

The specific target for China’s national dream is to double annual per capita income within 10 years and create a prosperous middle income country by 2050. The conclusion for the dream will be the complete elimination of poverty and a moderate standard of living for all citizens.

To make the dream come true, China will have to maintain its current high growth rate and continue to address poverty in rural and low-income communities.

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At a national level, realisation of the Chinese dream would mean international respect for modern China as a key player in the international community.

Moreover, China would be able to regain international status and forget past humiliations. At the same time, the China Dream is intended to expand convergence with the interests of other countries and to construct a community of common interests.

China is strongly promoting the concept of a common human destiny and encouraging broader co-operation within the global community, especially with Africa. This implies the establishment of innovative global development partnerships to advance mutual economic and political interests.

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The FOCAC VI Summit will give expression to a new China-Africa partnership within the context of the Chinese Dream and the concept of a common human destiny.

President Xi has suggested that China and Africa now have a community of shared destinies, based on similar historical experiences, common development tasks and shared long-term strategic, and geo-political interests.

A common destiny grounded on a collective desire to overcome poverty now unites both China and Africa, while increased commercial interaction, based on equality and mutual respect, is seen as the mechanism for promoting economic growth and long-term prosperity.

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The China-Africa common destiny has become more evident over the last ten years, as increased trade with China has transformed Africa into the last great frontier for economic development. Riding the China wave of industrialisation and modernisation, Africa has witnessed significant growth and increased prosperity.

In 2014, former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, suggested that Africa, like China needed a dream to identify its priorities and to mobilise its efforts towards a common goal. The voices of the African people are now contained in the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063, the manifestation of an ‘African Dream,’ through which the goals and aspirations of the African people are clearly expressed and articulated.

The objectives outlined in the AU document are in many ways similar to the aims of the Chinese Dream. Both China and Africa are striving for a better future, for a reduction of poverty and for the improved material well-being of their people in a highly competitive globalised world.

China and Africa share the same dream of sustainable development, poverty relief and long-term prosperity. After 30 years of opening and economic reform, China is already more than halfway to achieving this dream, while Africa has made good progress, but has a long way to go.

Increased China-Africa interaction will provide both sides with fresh opportunities and new options to advance a win-win outcome promoting common economic and social development. China’s success in reducing poverty is a particular inspiration to Africa, thus a China-Africa consultative partnership to share experiences and ideas to combat poverty would be very helpful in advancing the common dream of economic growth and prosperity.

Poverty relief remains Africa’s key issue and requires new policies and creative economic solutions. China’s success in this context offers Africa encouragement and a possible model for addressing this challenge.

The AU’s Agenda 2063 suggests a framework for a broader and more co-operative China-Africa relationship. China’s commitment to Africa over the last thirty years has been extensive, constructive and has made a positive overall contribution to Africa’s economic development.

Broadening and deepening the co-operation process can strengthen relations and build a foundation for a long-term comprehensive development partnership. The successful implementation of Agenda 2063 will largely depend on Africa building and advancing a more positive and constructive business environment.

Advancing business-friendly policies in Africa is also the key to enhancing the China-Africa relationship and lifting the African continent from poverty. China’s post-Mao business-friendly policies, especially in the coastal special economic zones (SEZ’s), were the initial catalysts which ignited new industrialisation and growth for the Chinese people.

Following the China development model, means good planning, offering creating investment opportunities and leveraging advantages. Attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) is the key to skills enhancement, technology transfers, job creation and long-term economic growth.

Africa should fully support the China Dream and should shape its future in co-operation with China’s Dream, through a process of policy synergy, committed co-operation and positive, goal-orientated interaction.

The new challenge at the FOCAC VI Summit in Johannesburg is thus to build a sustainable, long-term relationship which produces specific and quantifiable benefits for both sides in accordance with mutual dreams and objectives.

The AU’s Agenda 2063 offers China and Africa an exci ting new opportunity to identify and craft a collaborative agenda which could bring significant benefits to both sides, while reinforcing a long-term development partnership. Given the growing interest in Africa by China and other external actors, the continent has a unique chance to exploit new options and possibilities.

Africa’s leadership has an opportunity to broaden engagement with the world, take advantage of globalization and craft a road map out of poverty towards prosperity and social stability.

The challenge at the Johannesburg Summit will be for the leaders of both sides to articulate a FOCAC declaration and action plan which advances both the Chinese Dream and the African Dream towards a common destiny of continued economic growth and prosperity.

Professor Garth Shelton is from the University of the Witwatersrand.

This article first appeared in an Independent Media supplement.

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