Tanzania's former ambassador to China Charles Sanga hails the huge progress achieved since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, especially since the reforms launched 30 years ago.
Sanga told Xinhua on Sturday, ahead of China's National Day on Oct. 1, that its success has been a subject of research and studies by scholars from all over the world.
Today the world is still grappling to understand this great nation and the reality of events taking place in China, in particular, during the last 30 years, the diplomat said.
With the support of friendly nations, it took about 32 years since 1949 of hard struggle and patience for this nation under the leadership of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai to get its rightful seat at the United Nations, the former ambassador said.
In 1978, Deng Xiaoping, the successor of Chairman Mao, initiated the "Open Door Policy and Economic Reforms." About 30 years have gone past since then, the world has witnessed in the words of the current Premier Wen Jiabao "Earthshaking developments in China," Sanga said.
The rapid economic changes which were taking place in the 14 East Coastal Cities of the country was witnessed. That was history in the making and the history of the second half of China's nationhood of 60 years, said the diplomat.
China's traditional friends have closely been intimated of what the country wants to achieve and how best to do so. However, the rest of the world has also been gently embraced by China to seek and seize fervently the opportunities given to them, said Sanga, who worked in China for nine years between 1985 and 1988 and between 2000 and 2006.
More than 20 years down the road of open door policy and economic reforms, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was officially launched in October 2000.
The forum had no intention of drastically changing the traditional cooperation that has existed for the last decades of diplomatic relations between China and Africa since 1956. Among many reasons, the new cooperation aimed at mapping out a new road map for strategic partnership for the mutual benefit of both sides, said the diplomat.
In 2006, a catalytic stimulus package was announced by China in its efforts to make Africa's economy more vibrant, Sanga added.
China has always been close to Africa and the countries of the South in general. Africa's struggle for freedom from colonialism would have been more difficult to achieve without assistance from China and other countries which shared Africa's desire for freedom and respect. China's unconditional assistance was offered when its economy was still in tatters, the diplomat noted.
In Tanzania, which hosted the former Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU) Liberation Committee, all assistance was geared toward making the country stand on its own feet. It was assistance that was meant to liberate Tanzania and similar other countries economically and through them liberate politically other countries in Africa and elsewhere which were still under the yoke of colonialism and apartheid, Sanga told Xinhua.
By the mid-1980s, almost the whole of Africa enjoyed political freedom. At that time China was about seven years old in its open door policy and economic reforms. The success of the new approach towards economic emancipation was quite promising, the diplomat said.
China's continued success has never been a source of self-pride or arrogance. In the early 1990s, China in its wisdom decided to make its position clear in the eyes of the world, aligning itself with the countries of the South. At the United Nations, the Group of 77 was officially known as Group of 77+China. It was a natural move. Sanga said.
The move towards a closer economic cooperation should not have come as a surprise to anyone even to the one with very scanty idea of the traditional cooperation between China and Africa. It was a logical and sensible move. Had it not taken place, Africa would have been wondering, equally, the rest of the world would have been wondering, the diplomat said.
It is therefore hypocrisy of the highest order on anyone to try to downplay the current cooperation under the Forum for China- Africa Cooperation. This is a kind of cooperation that can only be branded in no other way but a genuine cooperation for the benefit of both sides, the diplomat pointed out.
China needs Africa and the rest of the world. Africa needs China and the rest of the world for existence. It is only the degree of alignment that differs. It is nothing but sheer truth that just a handful number of African countries had a closer alignment with China in the first 30 years of its nationhood. It still had even fewer links with affluent countries in the West. During the past 30 years China has been able to establish many ties both with the affluent and the poor countries, said the diplomat.
Africa is capable of choosing its development partners. With more than 40 years of independence, Africa is quite aware that it is responsible for its own development with the assistance from well meaning partners from outside the continent, Sanga said.
With its current economic power, China will continue to do so without interfering in the internal affairs of any state and without being indifferent towards world affairs of interest to all humankind, the diplomat stressed.
China's policy towards Africa is well documented, Sanga said, adding that it is based on sincerity, friendship and equality; cooperation for mutual benefit, reciprocity and common prosperity; mutual trust; mutual support and learning from each other. "It takes two to tango," the diplomat said. Any policy by any nation that aims at disengaging China or the Chinese cannot be sustained.
It is not time of pointing fingers at China or the Chinese people in their engagement with Africa or the rest of the world. Instead, common sense would demand constructive engagement with China and the Chinese people in order to benefit from their experience of changing a tattered economy into a prosperous economy just in thirty years of reforms or better still, sixty years of its nationhood, Sanga said.
The Tanzanian diplomat extended congratulations on China for its 60 years of nationhood, especially for fulfilling a dream of the Founding Fathers of the nation who aimed at creating a confident nation free of fear and devoid of the temptations of a superpower.
(Xinhua News Agency September 27, 2009)