Forum on Chinese African Cooperation - Ahmed Moustafa | Eurasia Diary -

21 March, Thursday

Forum on Chinese African Cooperation - Ahmed Moustafa

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At the invitation of Mr. Alaa Lu, Director of China Central Television Station in Cairo, I was hosted on Sunday morning, August 26, 2018 with Mr. Hussein Ismail, Director of "China Today" website at 9:00 am, to talk about the upcoming Forum "Forum On Chinese African Cooperation/FOCAC", which will be held over two days next week 3-4 September 2018. The meeting was also moderated by Mr. Lu – and the principal questions he addressed to us were as follows:-  
The first question was about Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent visit to Africa, saying that China and Africa have been friends and cooperators for decades and their relationship is part of the so-called "community of common destiny, a society that shares good and bad, win-win relation", what do you understand from the talk of President Shi this?
The answer of Mr. Ismail summarized about the words of the Chinese and African solidarity for the similarity between the two cases, and that China has been suffering from the same problems as Africa, and the relationship developed after the reform and opening up policy 40 years ago and extended to several areas including economic, social, development and health aspects, Since China always says, although it has the largest economic growth rate and economic flexibility in the world, it is still a developing country and here is another similarity because the majority, if not all African countries, are developing countries. So China and Africa are two wings of a bird, through which Africa can express safety, especially for Africa's trust in China as a result of its infrastructure and other projects, further, there is moral responsibility towards Africa by China.
My answer was briefed in that there are two sides in China towards Africa, An ethical side similar to that summarized by Mr. Ismail, as well as getting corrective standards in trade with China that make them a competitor and also an exporter of their products to China, which was discussed at the recent BRICS Summit in Johannesburg. As well as the pragmatic side about the neglect of America and the West of Africa, and the accusation that it is the house of disease, even though they were former colonist and obtained their raw materials for very little value, but did not develop anything in it, whereas China replaced America under the concept of strategic vacuum, as well as for its cheap raw materials, and also that Africa is the largest market and importer of Chinese final products in the world.
The second question was about President Xi's visit to Africa and the world's attention to the China-Africa Cooperation Forum to be held in Beijing in a few days, thus what are our expectations for this forum?
The question has addressed to me, and I answered that the forum is of great importance in view of the international changes taking place in the international arena, as well as the current trade war raging between America and China, and that China has already spent 60 billion dollars in development projects for the African continent, but whether these projects have been properly implemented is what the Chinese will ask, and the idea of South-South cooperation, but the leaders of Africa must at the same time set a good and appropriate agenda at the event level to ensure the success and effectiveness of the forum.
Mr. Ismail has already added and confirmed that it is very important for Africa, and that about 80% of these projects have already been completed over the last three years. The basic plans for cooperation between China and Africa are well established and well executed, but follow-up and review are required to complete such projects.
The third question revolves around what we believe this initiative contributes to stronger African participation in economic globalization?
Mr. Ismail's response was that in the future it would be the globalization of the African economy. He explained that the Chinese Road and Belt Initiative had two parts, the road, the land, through land axes based on the ancient Silk Road initiative, but the link would not only reach the Middle East and Europe as it was historically. But will also reach Africa through the sea-belt stretching across the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Thus it will reach African countries that entered the initiative such as "Egypt and Algeria in North Africa, East African countries, and some West African countries such as Senegal and South Africa". There will be also through land axes even in Africa, in East Africa, and its countries such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, etc. He also spoke about the Cairo-Johannesburg Axis, which will link the north of the continent to its south and its strategic and economic importance, as well as Suez Canal Axis and Al Ain Sokhna projects in Egypt, which export their products to the world through Egypt.
Then I completed after that – that China is the largest investor in Africa worth 300 billion dollars and that it will already serve the commercial globalization of the African continent through additional matters such as the "Silk Road Fund for Africa" proposed by Egyptian Investment Minister "Sahar Nasr", which will add value to Egypt. Also for the maritime belt via the development of Gwadar Port in Pakistan and the China-Pakistan Trade Corridor, which will extend the maritime belt to Africa, and then the space axis, cooperation on the level of space, satellite and informatics with the African continent, and this led me to announce again about my initiative I proposed on the Chinese authorities and CCTV "Towards Aware Media".
This initiative is designed to link the centers of media and economic studies of the Silk Road and the development of a new generation of media between China and Silk Road countries including Africa, to promote this new global initiative "Belt and Road" so that peoples, who unfortunately remained under the weight of the American media to know the truth. That China, which produces only bad goods, a state that bypasses intellectual property, steals the ideas of others without evidence, is not at all like that, and that America has the World Trade Organization, as well as the Intellectual Property Organization, to make claims against China, if damaged.
As well as the importance of building joint research engines between China and the countries of the initiative, as a firewall against electronic attacks and theft of intellectual property towards us. I spoke about the suffering of Senegal from France and the incident of circumventing the personal email of the former Senegalese president and that Africa is still under the former colonial power. Also without great promotion and international public relations, the initiative "Belt and Road" will not bear fruitful.
The fourth question is that in the past, China-Africa cooperation has always been confined to the agriculture, energy and infrastructure sectors. But in the future, will this cooperation go beyond those sectors to other sectors such as money and advanced technology as you see it?
Mr. Ismail said that in the future, the volume of cooperation in other sectors, such as industry, production lines and technological infrastructure, will be developed. As my colleague Mr. Moustafa said, there is already an urgent need for joint research engines to help develop the technological and informational structure and exchange of information between the two sides, which facilitates trade in the future. Also, there will be an evolution of the movement of more banks in Africa, which will facilitate the issue of trade exchanges, because the current relations are still in favor of the Chinese side. He stressed that there is already a media development between the two countries is taking place and joint training movements at the level of researchers, media professionals and academics between China and Africa to raise the level of awareness of the African citizen of this initiative, and then that there are several offices to China Central Television CCTV/CGTN in Africa, in addition to the office of Egypt, where we carried out this program, but we still need more.
Then I completed, that as my background is economic, that the summit will be held in two days 3-4 September, the first day will be for economic relations and investment, however the second day will see a summit of the Chinese and South African presidents as well as a meeting at the level of presidents to discuss political and strategic issues. I added that China can export the production lines of some products that are subjected to US sanctions to the African continent as an "Third Party" is not under the influence of sanctions, as it will be more beneficial to Africa, including improving the social and economic situation of many poor families, whose members suffer from unemployment and raise the level of labor through training. But also to focus on the role of banks and their contribution to microfinance, the same idea that developed China's industry and eliminated poverty, in addition to the role of civil society, especially those interested in employment, training, economic and social development. We cannot forget also the importance of the cultural product, as we have said before, it is a very important product, especially the translation projects of Chinese books, Chinese literature, and vice versa. It is one of the projects that can bring together China and Africa, or at least China and Egypt.
As Egypt is the most developed in Africa in the field of media and cultural production, other than the other projects that can be extended to cinema, theater and television production co-operation, in which thousands and more of both sides are involved and working in it and generate high income and bring closer between the cultures of China and Africa. Further I pointed out the need for individuals of aware intellectuals and interested persons in China and Africa in such initiatives and not rely solely on governments, because those individuals may have close ties with large segments of people on the ground as well.
The fifth question about the coincidence of this year was the 40th anniversary of China's implementation of the reform and opening-up policy. We know that this policy has brought many development fruits to China over the past four decades. Are there any Chinese experiences that African countries can benefit from?
Mr. Ismail said that we cannot take what China has done and move it to Africa, because there are historical and cultural differences, but there is convergence in the problems suffered by both countries. But we have to program or translate these solutions in proportion to the nature of the African continent, however as we mentioned we can transfer the Chinese experience in education, health and investment. For example in the free zones and how it was successful, is it possible, for example, Sino models of industrial and investment cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen to be transferred? And how they have succeeded? And then apply it in some African countries and cities overlooking the sea, especially North African countries such as Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. As well as East and South African countries, which are similar, in composition, to the eastern Chinese cities bordering the China Sea, which have become the largest industrial cities, not only in China, but in the world.
I have also concluded that China has a successful experience in countering the terrorism created by America, which America unfortunately is trying to plant near its enemies, "China, Russia and Iran" in Pakistan and Afghanistan and I referred to the organization of "Daesh Khashran and Al-Qaeda".
The most important point is that African governments maintain their sovereignty over their monetary and financial policies, as China's lack of subordination to IMF and World Bank programs has made it the world's most powerful economic country and has made the yuan a strong competitor to the dollar. China is not susceptible to manipulating global financial markets, as happened in its neighbors in the late 1990s, China is also pursuing the principle of "Red Hats", ie, the existence of state control over major strategic economic companies and groups, while the management is run by the private sector. I always say that there is now the "Neo-Communism" that I am inclined to vis-a-vis "neo-liberalism" which has caused the global economy to collapse due to the lack of controls and standards.
The last question was: how to see the future of China-Africa relationship?
Mr. Ismail said that it is strong and strong relations, as long as there has been a revision of the previous positions and projects, correcting and improving them, so long as the future does not prejudice the fair standards in dealing between China and Africa, so that Africa becomes a follower of China. 
For me, it was to prepare a good and well-thought-out agenda for this summit, so that we would be at the level of China's parity, and also preceded by a clear strategic vision of: What do we want from China? What does China want from us?
The meeting ended after about 45 minutes, which will be aired in only 30 minutes after the necessary editing during the 2 days' forum, followed by tributes from the moderator of the meeting, the presenter and office manager of CCTV/CGTN Office in Cairo, "Mr. Alaa Lu" for attending early to record this important program, which is considered in my view a "Manifest" that could benefit decision-makers and other African and Chinese parties on future China-Africa cooperation policies.
Made by:
Ahmed Moustafa
Political Economist,
Director of Asia Center for Studies and Translation 
Member of CODESRIA and Group of Strategic Vision 
Russia and Islamic World

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