In this feature RAPHAEL ONI examines the upcoming Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, while dispelling the insinuation in certain quarters that the initiative is Chinese colonisation of Africa in disguise.
As we count down to the upcoming Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) we also look forward a robust discussion on the Belt and Road Initiatives, which will kick-start a new journey for China-Africa relations, some prospective participants has observed.
The Summit which would be held in a matter of days has the forgoing theme, “China and Africa: Toward an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-Win Cooperation.”
It is however, believed that the summit will invigorate joint efforts to build a community with a shared future for humanity, with the Belt and Road Initiatives standing tall among the issues to be discussed on table of this high level summit.
Certainly one is rest assured of a success in the promotion on the China- Africa Cooperation.
According to some foreign relation experts, “China and Africa have long standing of shared values and had both gone through rough roads in the past, as such we see future as interwoven, which sustains the lasting resolve of the two sides to cooperate and act on a great vision”.
They observed that since the establishment of the cooperation in 2000, the platform has served as forum for the collective dialogue and cooperation between China and African countries.
“There is no doubt that over the past 18 years, achievements have been made in political, economic and people-to-people exchanges between China and Africa, especially after the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit in 2015. Trade volume between China and Africa increased by 17 times between 2000 and 2017. China’s investments in Africa have also grown significantly.
“Previous FOCAC conferences have given a great boost to economic and social development in Africa, winning recognition from both African people and the international community, as such their effective implementation have had a tremendous impact on the lives of the people. They also give people from both sides a strong confidence that the future of China-Africa friendship cooperation is positive”.
As President Xi Jinping hosts other African leaders early in September, the Chinese leadership and African Leaderships are expected to further align with the summit’s theme with the Belt and Road Initiative, the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the development strategies of individual African countries.
Going by previous experiences, there is no doubt that the Beijing Summit will be another milestone in China-Africa relations.
Nigeria and other African countries have lots to benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative few experts had observed. Though originating from China, it belongs to the whole world. Africa, being part of the historical and natural extension of the Belt and Road, has been an important participant in this initiative. The Chinese authorities according to them have repeatedly says that the Belt and Road Initiative is open to all countries. If each African country align her developmental plans with the Belt and Road Initiative they stands to benefit tremendously as news plans will emerged from the Cooperation between China and the continent.
This some insist will generate more resources and means, expand the market and space for African development, and broaden its development prospects.
They explained that “The Belt and Road Initiative aims to allow all concern countries to have access to development opportunity through enhancing cross-border connectivity and improving cooperative levels of cross-border trade and investment and boost global economy and promote balances, healthy and sustainable development of the world economy by increasing effective supply of new demand.
“As we take a look at the nuclear points to be highlighted in the FOCAC Summit early in September, African countries should tap into the new world order and take measures to fully engage with the China’s Belt and Road Initiative as a new framework for international cooperation. The initiative was launched in 2013 by Chinese President, Xi Jinping to build infrastructure networks both overland and maritime to connect Asia, Europe and Africa”.
There were 29 heads of governments present at the maiden edition of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing China in May 2017, they include that of Kenya and Ethiopia from Africa.
China made history for hosting the biggest diplomatic event in May 2017. The two days world events applauded by media men around the globe ended with hope for the common man. As the curtains were drawn in Beijing on the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) a global blueprint was released, setting up the stage for greater economic integration for globalization. The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, held in Beijing, has no doubt revealed China’s ability to lead globally, some commentators observed.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari will be leading a high level delegation to attend the FOCAC Summit, as his administration seek to consolidate on infrastructural development going on in the country, some of the projects includes Mambilla Hydro Power Project, the Railway Construction across the country to mention few.
This direction of Nigerian government is in line with the Belt and Road Initiative, hence the imperative of Nigerian participation. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has proven to be productive and effective in boosting China-Africa cooperation.
According to His Excellency Zhou Yuxiao, China Special Envoy for FOCAC, “The initiative has grown into a dynamic mechanism with rich content and tangible results, following the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith with the values of friendship, justice, and shared interests”.
The Envoy clear the point on the issue of China imposing her will on Africa by saying, “China neither imposes its own will on others nor seeks its sphere of influence,” Furthermore, he said, “The concept of ‘extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits’ is upheld when China cooperates with African countries.”
Yuxiao said the FOCAC summit scheduled for September 3 to 4 in Beijing China will focus on priorities and key directions for China-Africa cooperation in coming years, saying “A key aspect to watch will be how China and Africa link the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and African countries’ development plans. The coming together of much needed “twin power engines” driving the BRI and FOCAC, China-Africa cooperation is poised to move forward at a jet speed to quickly bring succour to Africans in general”.
FOCAC he added “Was founded in 2000 and its membership had grown to 53 African countries having diplomatic relations with China, and the African Union Commission as of June 2018. Under the FOCAC framework, there are regular consultations at ministerial and senior-official levels, and between the Chinese Follow-up Committee and the African Diplomatic Corps in China. Sub-forums on business, youth, health and poverty reduction, and many others, have also been set up. FOCAC is not for idle words, but a platform to unleash real actions”.
At a presentation on the relevance of the initiative to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 recently held in Addis Ababa, James Wakiaga, Economic Advisor at the UN Development Program (UNDP), noted that the Belt and Road Initiative is vital to address the infrastructure deficit in Africa, thereby accelerate structural transformation on the continent.
The Belt and Road Initiative he said was very important particularly in terms of closing the infrastructure gap, observing “Africa’s infrastructure gap is quite huge, needing like 95 billion dollars annually. So, we need to look for the different sources of financing to Africa’s infrastructure to be able to accelerate structural transformation and diversification”.
It is also imperative to look at some of the sectional biases on the Belt and Road Initiate, which claims that China is Colonizing Africa.
Some proponent of the initiative posed the foregoing questions to those antagonizing the scheme using vicious propaganda saying, “Let us examine this critically, Is China colonizing Africa? Let us be clear at this point. Do we see Chinese military conquests of African lands? No. Do we see mass settlement and control of indigenous people? Certainly No, then it is unfair to say China is colonizing Africa”.
Colonization according to them, “Is acquiring full political control over another country, and exploiting it economically, but this is not the case with the Belt and Road. The Belt and Road Initiative or the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road is a development strategy proposed by the Chinese government which focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries, primarily the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the ocean-going Maritime Silk Road (MSR)”.
Dispelling the following toxic propaganda against the initiative, the President of China Xi Jinping says, “China will enhance friendship and cooperation with all countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence.
Defending the initiative further the President concluded. “We are ready to share practices of development with other countries, but we have no intention to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, export our own social system and model of development, or impose our own will on others. We will not resort to outdated geopolitical manoeuvring. What we hope to achieve is a new model of win-win cooperation. We have no intention to form a small group detrimental to stability, what we hope to create is a big family of harmonious co-existence”.