Festival celebrates China-Africa ties

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Chinese and African people often learn from each other. According to another participating guest Liang Anping, an official of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, he learns from close relationships African officials have with people.

"When I worked in Africa, I saw officials of some African countries divide their work in a detailed way, sometimes visiting local people's houses, and laboring with them so that people developed close relationships with them. We can learn from their experience," says Liang.

Maria Tukargbo, another youth representative, also an actress and singer from Sierra Leone, says she is moved by the story of Soong Ching Ling, widow of Sun Yat-sen and the late vice-chairwoman of China who had a universal love for young people.

According to Tukargbo, Soong's selfless and humanitarian spirit is a common legacy for people in China and elsewhere. "Anyone who wants to enact can learn a lot from Soong's spirit. There are so many poor people in Africa, and Soong's spirit can also touch and motivate them," she says.

Zhang highlights what the cultures share.

"China and Africa are both home to ancient, distinctive cultures, formed due to different historical paths, geography and other conditions. They share an emphasis on family, collectivism and coexistence between humanity and nature, although Chinese people are generally more reserved than their seemingly more ebullient African counterparts.

"Late Premier Zhou Enlai proposed to seek common ground while reserving differences during the Bandung Conference in 1955, and that is the point on how to find cultural commonalities and build bonds between us," she adds.

Current areas of cooperation between Beijing and Africa cover many sectors, like trade, technology, medicine and culture. For example, since 1968, Beijing started to send medical teams to Guinea. For the past half century, batches of medical workers have been dispatched in succession to help cure diseases in Africa.

According to participating guest Xu Yujia, an official at the Foreign Affairs Office of Beijing, "from 2017 to 2020, Beijing's investment in Africa has exceeded $8 trillion. Beijing's enterprises have extensive cooperation with Africa in infrastructure, automobile manufacturing and big data".

Speaking about suggestions for further cooperation and communication, Xu says promoting the spread of cultural products is a good idea. "Both China and Africa have quality and popular cultural products, like TV series, documentaries, music and dance. If we can share our products, we will understand the other side more, reduce prejudices, and consolidate our friendship."

Another youth representative, Ding Ruilin, a student from BFSU, supports Xu's idea, and says music and short videos are the cultural products that they can pay special attention to.

"Music is an important part of both cultures. Modern pop music has a wide audience and can spread quickly, so with the theme of China-Africa cooperation, we can create songs that enable more people to learn the meaning of our cooperation," Ding says.

"Short videos, especially vlogs are quite popular. We can cooperate, making some videos showing the content of our cooperation and explaining cultural phenomena to each other," he adds.

He also advises the need for regular online discussions on various topics, and Chinese and African young people to speak on international social networking platforms, clarifying misunderstandings about the cooperation between China and Africa.

"Some Western media discredit our cooperation and try to drive public opinion, which may mislead many young people. We need to safeguard the reputation of our cooperation, show the reality and spread knowledge about the real Africa and China to those around us," he adds.

Representative Joseph Olivier Mendoo, a Cameroonian student who studies at Peking University, says he hopes the festival can generate a mechanism for the cooperation between China and Africa. His idea was echoed by Wang Ke, former Chinese ambassador to Tanzania.

"The subsequent action or the mechanism is very important," Wang says. "It should be sustainable, which helps to extend the friendship between us, and also spread the spirit of cooperation that we stress through this festival."

Starting in 2016, the festival has been held for six consecutive years. This year's festival "paves the way for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation that will be held in Senegal in November", according to Wang.

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