China Commits to Modernization and Integration of Africa

Following the conclusion of the official BRICS Summit meetings in Johannesburg, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chinese President Xi Jinping co-hosted Aug. 24 the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue, which was attended by the leaders of 12 African countries and regional organizations. The gathering, which had been initiated by Xi, was especially devoted to advancing development of the continent. China is already by far the largest trading partner of Africa, and Africa has now surpassed Asia as the largest market for China’s overseas construction projects, mainly involving crucial transportation infrastructure.

The Chinese President, in his address, gave an overview of the upcoming activities and the commitments of his country, under the title, “Joining Hands To Advance Modernization and Create a Great Future for China and Africa”. He praised Africa’s strides on the path of independence, noting that it was “becoming an important pole with great influence.” While China, he said, is moving toward its Second Centenary Goal of building a modern socialist country in all respects, Africa is moving toward the bright prospects envisioned in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

In terms of “practical cooperation” aimed at helping “Africa bring its integration and modernization into a fast track”, he made three proposals.

  1. China will launch the Initiative on Supporting Africa’s Industrialization. In the framework of the FOCAC (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation), China will channel more resources of assistance, investment and financing toward programs for industrialization
  2. China will launch the Plan for China Supporting Africa’s Agricultural Modernization. That involves in particular the expansion of grain plantations, an increase in agricultural investments in Africa, and enhanced cooperation in agro-technology.
  3. China will launch the Plan for China-Africa Cooperation on Talent Development. Plans have been developed to train 500 principals and high-caliber teachers of vocational colleges every year, and 10,000 technical personnel with both Chinese language skills and vocational skills for Africa. Many programs are planned for university education, workshops and seminars.

President Xi further noted that China-Africa collaboration involves “working together to promote a just and equitable international order,” opposing “vestiges of colonialism and hegemonism in all forms”. He also welcomed Africa’s efforts to secure a more secure global environment, including with its proposals for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.

The African leaders, for their part, thanked China for supporting African integration and assisting African countries in times of need. They commended in particular China’s new initiatives as well as the Belt and Road Initiative. In his concluding comments, President Ramaphosa underlined that “Sustained engagement with China as one of the supporters of strategic development projects is critical”.

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