|Africa's Continuously Increasing Importance|
Source: People's Daily
By Liu Shuiming)
Under the auspices of the Chinese Research Society of African Affairs and hosted by African Studies Center of School of International Relations of the Yunnan University, the 2nd African Studies Forum and China-Africa Relations Seminar was held at the Yunnan University on 18th and 19th April. At the opening ceremony, the Joint Research Center of African Resources and Development co-founded by Yunnan Land Resources Vocational College and School of International Relations of Yunnan University was unveiled, marking the creation of a new platform and entering into a new stage of China's Africa studies.
Around 100 participants, including Africa-study specialists and academics, government officials, Chinese businessmen engaging in Africa and representatives from the media held discussions and exchanged ideas on the "New Challenges, Issues and Measures in China-Africa Relations". Many of the topics are of great academic and practical values, such as the New Opportunities and New Paths in China-Africa Cooperation in Low-Carbon Economy, China-Africa Medical Cooperation Upgrading's New Impacts on Public Diplomacy between China and Africa and China's Development Experiences That Can Be Drawn by and Shared with African Countries.
The participants believe that despite Africa is faced with constant local conflicts and internal turmoil, Western powers'interference in African affairs and African Union's inability to address African issues in African way, the continent is unlikely to have an all-out turmoil and can dramatically drive up its international position, as China continues expanding its interests there in the meanwhile.
It is of urgent need and great importance to actively push forward the New Type of China-Africa Strategic Partnership featuring "political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation, mutual learning through cultural exchanges, more exchanges and consultations on security issues and stronger cooperation in international affairs".
China is now Africa's largest trading partner, while Africa China's 4th largest overseas investment destination and 2nd largest overseas labor contract market. According to incomplete statistics, more than 2000 Chinese companies are engaged in Africa today.
During the forum and seminar, some specialists and academics point out that the Chinese businesses are faced with both new market opportunities and challenges found in the political environment, cultural differences and security issues. In particular, against the background of the global financial crisis and North Africa turmoil, the Chinese firms should fully leverage their advantages in expanding the Africa market and enhance China's cooperation with the continent by making pre-planning and coordination, changing the operational and development mode and strengthening services and regulatory efforts.
Some specialists and academics also state that the Chinese companies engaging in Africa need to help African countries strengthen their capabilities of independent development, constantly enhancing their sense of responsibility, actively participating in charitable work and making contributions to the local communities. Meanwhile, they need also step up publicity through various channels, taking initiatives in establishing good relations with the host country, media and public. Only in such a way, can the Chinese companies respond effectively to the long-lasting malicious and distorting reports of the Western media.