10:49, January 27, 2012
BEIJING, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- China is committed to helping African nations to improve their abilities for self-development, Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said on Friday.
Gao, also International Trade Representative of the Ministry of Commerce, made the remarks in an article published by Xinhua ahead of top Chinese political advisor Jia Qinglin's visit to Africa. Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the 18th African Union summit and pay an official visit to Ethiopia from Friday to Sunday.
"The major task of the economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa is to help improve Africa's development conditions and enhance its self-development capability," said the official.
In his article, Gao hailed the "fruitful" economic cooperation between China and Africa during the past few years.
China has become the largest trading partner of Africa and their trade volume reached 160 billion U.S. dollars in 2011, in comparison with 12 million dollars in 1950, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
At the same time, Africa has become one of China's top investment destinations. More than 2,000 Chinese enterprises are investing in the continent.
During the past few years, China has not only helped African nations to build schools, hospitals, bridges and other important projects, but has also sent many agricultural experts, medical professionals and volunteers to train nearly 30,000 personnel.
"As globalization goes on, the development of Africa cannot advance without the engagement of the outside world," Gao said, adding that both developed and emerging economies are development partners of Africa.
"Meanwhile, it should be Africans themselves that make their decisions on development," said the Chinese official, adding that outside partners should treat Africa fairly and see Africans' needs as their opportunities to maintain the momentum of cooperation, benefit each other and achieve common development.
While expanding aid to Africa, China is also providing preferential loans to African nations to improve the infrastructure and people's livelihoods there, Gao said.
China has set up six economic and trade cooperation zones and some development funds in Africa to attract more direct investment from China and incubate more small and medium-sized local enterprises.
"The Chinese enterprises (that run business in Africa) have started to combine their own development closely with the development of the local communities," said the vice commerce minister.
A China-Africa Brightness Action initiative, funded by Chinese enterprises and launched in 2010, on the 10th anniversary of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, has provided more than 1,000 African patients with free eye surgery and brought light and hope to cataract patients living on the African continent, Gao said, "which is a vivid example of Chinese enterprises' commitment to social responsibility."
As the world is undergoing complex changes, China and Africa have even more common interests, sharing rare opportunities for development while addressing global challenges, said the official.
China and Africa are highly complementary to each other in economic terms, and China's products, technology and managerial experience are suitable for the development of Africa, especially when Africa is in the initial phase of industrialization and urbanization, Gao said.
The official said that China will make more efforts to balance its trade with Africa, increase investment in and expand aid to the continent and promote economic integration in Africa to help enhance Africans' capacity for self-development.
To deepen economic and trade cooperation serves not only the two sides' own development, but also their long-term interests, Gao added.