Advancing China-Africa ties

Updated: 2014-05-05 07:39

By He Wenping (China Daily)

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Frequent high-level exchange visits and more interactions between ordinary people will enhance communication and mutual trust

Premier Li Keqiang is paying official visits to Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya from May 4 to 11, during which he will deliver a speech at the headquarters of the African Union in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababas and attend the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. During his visit, Li is expected to sign about 60 deals in sectors such as energy, trade, culture, health, agriculture and personnel training.

This is Li's first visit to Africa since he took office in 2013, and it comes within a year of President Xi Jinping's visit to the continent as part of his first trip abroad after taking office. In addition to the visits by Xi and Li, Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Ethiopia, Djibouti, Ghana and Senegal in January 2014, continuing the long-held tradition that Africa is the first destination of the year for China's foreign ministers, who have made the continent their first port of call each year since 1991. This highlights that the Chinese leadership continues to attach great importance to the development of China-Africa relations and the enhancement of South-South cooperation.

There is no doubt that frequent high-level reciprocal visits are the necessary guarantee for China and Africa to strengthen mutual political trust and establish a new type of strategic partnership, as well as an important pillar ensuring the smooth development of their traditional friendship in the future. When there is a leadership change in a country it is particularly important for exchange visits to be conducted in the shortest possible time so as to maintain communication and understanding and reassure each other of the continuity of friendly relations.

State-to-state relations thrive when there is friendship between the peoples and such friendship grows out of close interactions. In order to maintain the healthy and sustainable development of China-Africa friendly relations, there should be people-to-people exchanges as well as frequent exchange visits by high-level officials. Over the past decade, more and more Chinese have come to Africa and vice versa, and now the frequency and scale of bilateral people-to-people contacts and exchanges are unprecedented.

Africans' favorable views of China are the result of the ordinary Chinese working in or visiting the continent with whom they come into contact and the China-made products they use, as well as the "China story" they see and hear. Therefore, if businessmen, academics, tourists, and workers in Africa can show Chinese people's genuineness, real results, affinity and sincerity, then the healthy and sustainable development of bilateral relations will gain inexhaustible momentum and there will be no market for those allegations of neocolonialism that aim to sow discord between China and African countries.

Li's visit also coincides with the 50th anniversary of former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai's first visit to Africa. Over the past half a century, China-Africa relations have continued to develop no matter how the international situation has changed. Today, China has been Africa's largest trade partner for five years in a row and Africa is China's third-largest market for overseas investment and second-largest market for overseas contract projects. China's direct investment in Africa had reached $25 billion by the end of 2013 and there are more than 2,500 Chinese companies now investing in Africa.

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