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Xi's speech a blueprint for China-Africa ties

By Evaristus M. Irandu | | Updated: 2018-09-06 09:13
President Xi Jinping delivers a speech while he and his wife Peng Liyuan hold a welcoming banquet for foreign leaders and their spouses attending the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Sept 3, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

By carefully analyzing the key note speech delivered during the opening of the seventh FOCAC Summit in Beijing, one is left with no doubt that President Xi Jinping will go down in history as one of the most accomplished and visionary leaders China has ever had. Indeed, he will enter annals of history as one of the world's greatest leaders of this century. This was clear by his brilliant key note speech - a speech that was aimed at an audience eager to turn a new leaf in China-Africa cooperation as the western powers play a catch-up game.

The hallmark of the president's speech is the "five-no approach" of China in its present and future engagement with Africa. This careful and well-crafted message reverberated not only in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, but also in the whole of the African continent and the world at large.

This approach or philosophy of allowing friendly African countries to pursue any path of development most appropriate for their conditions would have been welcomed by the African leaders. By not interfering in internal affairs of African states or attaching conditionality to financial assistance, Xi re-affirmed China's long-cherished commitment to be a real "friend in need" for Africa.

To develop and pull millions of Africans out of poverty, Africa needs assistance in capacity building, including technology transfer, financial, material and moral support. This is what Xi reiterated at the summit. He said that in China, Africa has a real friend. That Chinese people want real and genuine change for the people of Africa in the years ahead.

His speech was a re-assurance that Africa will not walk a lonely path. Africa can always count on the genuine support of the people of China. The president said in no unambiguous language that China puts friendship first in cooperation. He emphasized that this sort of cooperation should be different: it is win-win cooperation. This cooperation should be most efficiently executed through what he described as "people-oriented" approach. Yes indeed, development should be aimed at improving people's welfare.

Xi further demonstrated the seriousness and commitment of his country in the win-win cooperation with Africa by announcing that China has honored its 2015 promise made during the sixth FOCAC Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, by providing Africa with funding support totaling $60 billion. This will definitely go a long way in modernizing agriculture and manufacturing industries in Africa, which are key sectors for promoting development. He concluded his speech by outlining eight major initiatives with African countries in the next three years and beyond, covering fields such as industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, and green development. Again emphasizing that China-Africa cooperation should and will be of mutual benefits for the people of China and the people of Africa.

This key note speech was a blue print for charting new ways and areas of China-Africa cooperation in a changing milieu of international cooperation.

The author is Associate Professor, Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, University of Nairobi.

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