China's new development approach in Africa

By Haifa Said
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 3, 2018
Adjust font size:
Aerial photo taken on May 8, 2018 shows the Chinese-built Maputo Cross-sea Bridge in Maputo, Mozambique. [Photo/Xinhua]

As the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is being held, China's relations with Africa is under the spotlight. 

China does not deny its interests in developing comprehensive cooperation with Africa. The continent's abundant resources and raw materials attract Chinese businesses. China's engagement in Africa is a natural result of its growing international position and geopolitical influence. These factors make it a strategic option for China to deepen engagement with Africa.

However, acknowledging China's interests in Africa does not lead to assuming that pursuing these interests is being achieved at the expense of the continent. 

China's successful course of development over the past 40 years, after the policy of reform and opening up was adopted, stands as a promising model to be adapted to suit the unique economic and social environment of African countries.

Having lifted 700 million people out of poverty, accounting for 70 percent of global poverty reduction, with long-term political stability, economic growth, governance, e-commerce and technological and scientific innovation, China's model provides an appealing choice to Africa, which has the largest number of developing countries in the world, and accordingly the largest potential for development and economic rejuvenation. 

Stricken with social and political instability, sluggish economies and the scourge of terrorism spawned by hundreds of years of Western colonialism, the low-income African countries have the chance not only to get fish from China but to learn from the Chinese how to fish. 

Under the Belt and Road initiative, China contributes to drawing a roadmap for long-term sustainable development in Africa. China is helping in laying the much-needed foundations in Africa that will later enable African countries to independently continue their paths towards effectively joining the international production chain and further enhancing Africa's international status.

Under the modern patterns of globalization, where much of the global trade is conducted along maritime routes, many African countries have been marginalized due to being part of large swathes of landlocked territory. What China is doing is connecting African countries with each other and with the rest of the world with a network of roads, highways, high-speed railways, ports, airports and telecommunications to help them become an effective part of the globalized networks.

China's financing contributions to African countries are not limited to transportation and communication projects. China is assisting in transferring foreign capital, investment and industries to Africa through improving the investment environment, building energy plants and accelerating manufacturing and agricultural modernization, in addition to establishing free trade zones, special economic zones and industrial development zones.  

Infrastructure and manufacturing are the two key economic drivers needed to stimulate economic growth in African countries and help them effectively join the international value chain.

China has built education, health and sport institutions to improve the wellbeing of African citizens. Chinese investments and projects have also created thousands of job opportunities to the locals. Transferring skills and technologies through providing scholarships and technical training and engineering consulting have been a part of China's strategy to give the Africans the know-how to empower them into leading their countries' development courses.

China's engagement in the industrialization strategy of Africa and its contribution to boosting local employment and the cultivation of local human resources will help African countries be profoundly connected to trade globalization and address their deficits.

In parallel, this will also contribute to addressing concerns over what Western media calls a "potential deft crisis" in Africa that would allegedly make it politically and economically dependent on China. 

Once Chinese-facilitated industrial and investment projects operate efficiently and the wheels of the economy keep turning, Africa will be able to re-pay China's debts, which are highly preferential in nature with comparatively low interest rates and long repayment periods.

With this win-win relationship, coupled with Beijing's principles of non-interference and respect of African countries' sovereignty, China departs from the Western donor-recipient style of engagement with Africa that has left the continent in shackles for decades, and offers instead a new approach of international cooperation, one with development being the core guide.

Haifa Said is an editor and journalist focused on international and China-related affairs.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from