Dancers from Africa perform in a press conference of the 20th Beer Festival in the Window of the World in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong, May 28, 2015. The festival will kick off on June 6, 2015. (Xinhua/Mao Siqian)
by Martin Williams
JOHANNESBURG, May 28 (Xinhua) -- China has forged a community of common destiny with African countries in the pursuit of common development and prosperity, offering wisdom and resources to help tackle challenges the African continent has been faced with for decades, experts said.
GOOD FRIEND, LEADING PARTNER
While China's links with Africa date back to the Song Dynasty in Chinese history starting from the 10th century, relations between the two sides in the modern era have mainly been shaped by the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence initiated by the Chinese leadership in the 1950s.
These principles of harmonious coexistence, equality and mutual benefit have yielded fruitful cooperation in the past.
China has provided aid to help African countries realize poverty relief, better livelihood, faster growth and stronger self-dependence in the past few decades, according to local experts.
As Sarah Raine notes in her book: China's African Challenges, "China, as the World's largest developing country, is posited as a natural ally of Africa, the largest developing continent."
Visitors look at the painting "Mandela" created by Chinese artist Li Bin (not in the picture) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), in Johannesburg, South Africa, on April 21, 2015. The exhibition of the panoramic oil painting "Mandela" that is created by Chinese artist Li Bin, was held by UJ and its Confucius Institute here Tuesday. This painting is 38m long and 3.8m high, depicting Mandela's lifelong struggle for peace and tolerance in three segments -- "Prisoner", "President" and "Peacemaker." The process to create this detailed imaginary took two years. (Xinhua/Zhai Jianlan)
Strong ties have been cemented between China and Africa through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, established in Beijing in 2000, and other platforms such as the Program for China-Africa Cooperation in Economic and Social Development.
It will also help maintain peace and stability in the region by forging a tightly-interwoven community of common destiny between China and Africa, the experts said.
As South African historian David Lea said, China "has emerged as the leading partner in trade and development for many African nations in the 21st Century".
COMMON DEVELOPMENT, COMMON DESTINY
While all developing countries face similar challenges, Africa's are uniquely influenced by its history of colonial exploitation and was punctuated by hosting the last bastion of formal apartheid in South Africa.
Given the centrality of poverty to Africa's woes, which often include conflicts over scarce resources, the continent needs non-exploitative friends, scholars said.
China's modern perspective and implementation of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence would be more suitable than anything practised by the West since the Second World War.
Dancers of the Liaoning Ballet of China and Joburg Ballet of South Africa perform "Swan Lake" at the Joburg Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa. "Swan Lake", presented by Joburg Ballet and the Liaoning Ballet of China, debuted here on Friday. As a highlight event in the Year of China in South Africa, the co-presented "Swan Lake" is scheduled to be showed in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein twenty times in total in coming days. (Xinhua/Zhai Jianlan)
China is now Africa's largest trading partner, and has contributed one fifth of the continent's economic growth, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Indeed, in a more globalized world, the interests of the two and all other continents have become closely intertwined and their future tightly interlinked in a community of common destiny for all mankind.
Yet the application of these principles may have to be continually refreshed because of Africa's distinctive circumstances. New ways must be found to deal with the challenges, the experts concluded.