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Africa China relations and perceptions on the continent

Published Jun 17, 2022

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Staff writer

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As China’s interest and influence grows in Africa it will cast a sharp light

on Africa China relations and perceptions on the continent. It is no

wonder that a video from 2020 which resurfaced recently has caused

quite a stir among African and Chinese communities. The video shows

young African children saying, “I am a black monster”.

The video is truly distasteful and Chinese authorities have committed to

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getting to the bottom of the creation of the video. The video undoubtedly

left a lot with a bitter taste in their mouth and left lingering questions

around whether this was an isolated incident or rather an indication of a

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persistent bias of the Chinese people.

There are two things we need to look at in order to answer the last

question, firstly What is China’s official policy regarding Africa and what

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are ordinary people on the continent saying about Africa China relation.

Let’s start by looking at Africa and China’s shared historical struggle.

In the fight for national liberation and independence, China and African

countries supported each other and expanded mutual political trust in

the process. In pursuing economic development and national

rejuvenation, both sides have been helping the other and increasing the

scope of cooperation. On major international and regional issues, they

have coordinated their positions and jointly safeguarded international

equality and justice.

Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the principles of China’s Africa

policy – sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, and pursuing the

greater good and shared interests, charting the course for China’s

cooperation with Africa, and providing the fundamental guidelines.

The principles of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and the

principles of pursuing the greater good and shared interests epitomize

China’s policy to Africa. They represent the essence of Chinese culture

and embody the historical traditions of China-Africa friendship – a role

model for international cooperation with Africa. They are the overarching

guiding principles for China in building up solidarity and cooperation with

developing countries, including those in Africa.

China is ready to reinforce mutual support with African countries on

issues involving core interests and major concerns of either or both.

China will continue its firm support for Africa’s position on international

and regional affairs, and uphold the common interests of developing

countries. China will continue its support for African countries’

efforts to resolve their continent’s issues in their own way, and

make a greater contribution to peace and security in Africa. China

will continue its firm support for African countries’ efforts to explore

development paths suited to their national conditions. It also stands

ready to increase exchanges on governance experience with African

countries and boost common development and prosperity, by drawing

on wisdom from the time-honored civilizations and experience of both

sides.

Particularly in recent years, China has scaled up its assistance and

cooperation with Africa. Whenever it makes a commitment, China as

always honoured it to the letter. It will continue to expand cooperation in

investment and financing with Africa and strengthen mutually beneficial

cooperation in agricultural and manufacturing sectors. By so doing,

China will help African countries translate their strengths in resources

into advantages in development and realize independent and

sustainable development.

“Do not do to others what you do not want others to do to you.” It also

corresponds to the fundamental interests of African countries and the

basic norms of international relations. It is a hallmark of China-Africa

solidarity and cooperation and can serve as a useful reference for

international cooperation with Africa.

China’s approach involves upholding four principles:

– Upholding sincerity, friendship and equality. The Chinese people have

worked together with African people in pursuit of a shared future. China

respects, appreciates and supports Africa.

– Upholding shared interests and the greater good, with greater

emphasis on the latter. In its cooperation with Africa, China applies the

principles of giving more and taking less, giving before taking, and giving

without asking for something in return. It welcomes African countries

aboard the express train of China’s development with open arms.

– Upholding a people-oriented approach in pursuing practical

cooperation with efficiency. In its cooperation with Africa, China gives

top priority to the interests and wellbeing of the peoples of China and

Africa, and works to their benefit. China is committed to fully honoring

the promises it has made to its African friends.

– Upholding openness and inclusiveness. China stands ready to work

with other international partners to support Africa in pursuing peace and

development. It welcomes and supports all initiatives that further Africa’s

interests.

The above suggests a China and Africa which are intentional about

building mutually beneficial opportunities for growth and prosperity. The

relations seems not only to be steeped in a shared history but also the

appreciation of a common future.

The second thing we needed to look at regarding China/Africa relations,

there was a recent study done and published which interviewed young

people across the continent and came to the following conclusions

The survey was conducted by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation and

found that 76% of 4,507 young Africans across 15 countries named

China as a foreign power with a positive influence on their lives,

compared with 72% for the US. In 2020, when the inaugural study of 18-

to-24-year-olds was conducted, 83% of respondents saw the US’s

influence as positive while the figure for China was 79%.

Positive sentiment toward China was strongest in Rwanda, Malawi and

Nigeria. The survey, which involves lengthy face-to-face interviews, will

be run annually. About 42% of the world’s youth are expected to be

African by 2030.

The survey also showed that young Africans have lost faith in their own

governments, and are increasingly concerned about climate change and

discrimination against women and ethnic minorities.

Key Findings of the survey:

 32% of young Africans said they were excited and optimistic about

the future of their countries compared with 43% in the 2020

survey. Angolans, Zambians and Malawians were the most

pessimistic of their countries while Nigerians had the dimmest view

of the continent’s future.

 39% said they wouldn’t take a Covid-19 vaccine even if it was

easily available.

 The top priority for those surveyed was job creation.

 72% of youth said they are concerned about climate change, citing

worries ranging from droughts to increased pollution.

 More than half of those surveyed said they planned to emigrate in

the next few years.

Ichikowitz founded the foundation and also heads Paramount Group

Ltd., a South Africa-based defense and aerospace business.

With Africa having the most developing countries and China being the

biggest developing country in the world. That in and of itself shows us

the necessity for us as continent to embrace China as a global ally and

hopefully bolster each other’s efforts to achieve common prosperity and

partnership.

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