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When the Sino-African Cooperation Goes Further
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The traditional friendship between China and Africa is in a new historical stage now, which will influence not only the economic landscape of the two sides, but also that of the world.

Zhou Xiaojing, vice director of the Asia-Africa institute under the Development Research Center of the State Council, gives in-depth insights into how the alliance in the new millennium will change the world. His view is carried on the Overseas Edition of People's Daily Thursday.

The establishment of the diplomatic relationship fifty years ago between China and Egypt marks the dawn of the cooperation between China and Africa. The release of China's African Policy by the Chinese government 50 years later after that marks the historical further step toward the Sino-African comprehensive cooperation. In this new stage, the across-the-board cooperation will not only present fresh features, but also result to fresh effects.

It is a comprehensive, strategic cooperation. With similar experience in the history, China and African countries are against unilateralism and power politics while striving for a new international political and economic order of justice and fairness. Both sides advocate a higher status and bigger role of the developing world in dealing with international affairs. It is the common interest that pushes forward the further alliance of the two sides on the international strategic level.

The Sino-African relations have entered into a real win-win situation. In the past 40 years, the economic relations between China and Africa were not typically reciprocal. That has been changed greatly in the recent five years due to improvement of the trade and economic strength of both China and Africa.

Trade between the two sides jumped to nearly US$40 billion last year from less than US$10 billion five years ago. By the end of 2005, the accumulative Chinese direct investment in Africa had come to US$1.25 billion. Meanwhile, China has reduced and written off 10.5 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) of debts of 31 African countries. It has also offered duty-free treatment to 190 categories of imports from 28 African countries. Accordingly, imports from Africa helped boost the Chinese economy.

The Sino-African economic cooperation helps Africa promote the economic rise of the war-plagued continent, which has long been marginalized in the globalization process. With the better political environment there, Africa's potential of economic development is attracting more and more attention.
Its rich natural resources contribute greatly to sustaining the global economy. Its large population represents a potentially enormous market next only to China and India. More and more countries are paying attention to Africa. The fast growing economic ties with China may accelerate Africa's economic rejuvenation.

The advancement of the Sino-African partnership will bring the era of Asia-Africa earlier to the world. The prediction in 1990s' of the 21st century as the "century of Asia" was mocked at and revised to the "century of Asia-Pacific". The ten years since that prediction witnessed fast rise of China, India and ASEAN. Now nobody has any doubt about that assumption.

Under the context of the faster than ever adjustment and transfer of the world economy, the world has embraced the "century of Asia" in the first half of the 21st century. The benefit of globalization will extend to Africa in the second half of the 21st century and make it one of the most active parts of the global economic system, like Asia.

The broader cooperation between China and Africa may also have cultural effect. In recent years, some countries turn their eyes to China to draw on China's experience of developing its economy. African countries, with their own situation, will find their own way of development on the basis of learning from other countries.

(People's Daily Online April 29, 2006)


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