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Sino-African relation: Heading towards a brighter future

Description:China has become the largest trading partner of the African continent, and the second most popular destination for African students to study abroad.

Representatives attend the 3rd BRICS Media Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, on July 18, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

President Xi Jinping visited four African nations late in July, his first trip to the continent after starting his second presidential term, and hence, a significant milestone in Sino-African relations.

The two sides have a strong history of trade and mutual cooperation since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. China has become the largest trading partner of the African continent, and the second most popular destination for African students to study abroad.

Burgeoning economic and trade relations

Starting from 2009, China's role has become increasingly important in shaping African economies. The volume of trade has also increased greatly in the last decade. With 20 percent year-on-year leaps on average, in 2017, two-way trade reached almost US$170 billion, while China's FDI exceeded US$40 billion.

Africa's exports to China amounted to US$75.3 billion in 2017, up 33 percent year-on-year, while the trade flow in the other direction reached US$94.7 billion, up 3 percent from the previous year. China mainly imports fuels, mineral oils, ores, precious metals, copper and wood, while mainly sending machinery, equipment, televisions, vehicles, steel and furniture.

The trade deficit is manageable for now, making it a win-win situation for both China and Africa.

According to a recent McKinsey report, currently, there are more than 10,000 Chinese-owned firms operating in Africa, 90 percent of which are from the private sector.

These Chinese companies hire 89 percent local employees, creating millions of jobs. Further, according to the report, their revenues are expected to reach a massive US$440 billion by 2025 under the most optimistic scenario.

Chinese investment is currently focused on three major areas namely manufacturing, resources and infrastructure. However, this is likely to change, with additional investment by Chinese-owned companies in five new areas: agriculture, banking & insurance, information communications, technology and telecommunications, and transport and logistics.

Currently, China is funding the construction of a 1,400 km-long railway in Nigeria, a highway in Algeria, and new cities in Egypt and South Africa. Djibouti, on the east coast, opened a China-backed free trade zone last month. The zone is considered to be the biggest in the African continent.

Chinese-built infrastructure – telecommunication networks, power stations, railways, dams, harbors, and roads – is already boosting the sustainable development of African countries to a significant extent.

Deepening security ties

It's not just technology and infrastructure. China is also providing assistance to Africa in border security as part of its global peacekeeping mission. South Sudan and Mali in Western Africa house around 2,500 peacekeeping troops, accounting for more than 80 percent of China's global peacekeepers. In 2015, during the UN General Assembly meeting, President Xi Jinping pledged military assistance worth US$100 million and 8,000 peacekeeping standby forces to the African Union in the coming five years.

In addition, China has also actively participated in normalizing relations between North and South Sudan, and between Ethiopia and Eritrea through diplomatic channels.

Improving education and cultural exchanges

The harmonious relationship between China and the African Union is also reflected by the increase in the number of African students studying in China. The latter supports wider cultural and educational exchanges, creating a conducive environment for students willing to study abroad by offering a lot of scholarships.

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the number of African students studying in China jumped from around 2,000 in 2003 to more than 50,000 in 2015, making it second most popular foreign destination after France with over 95,000 students.

Strengthening relations through Belt & Road Initiative

In 2013, President Xi announced the ambitious "Belt and Road Initiative" to integrate the economies along the Silk Road Economic Belt (Central Asia to Europe) and the Maritime Silk Road (South Asia to Africa and the Middle East) together.

This mega project is intended to realize the Chinese dream of increased trade and economic empowerment among dozens of economies in Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania. As of January 2018, a total of 70 countries had agreed to become part of the project, out of which nine are from Africa.

To sum up, it can be said that the burgeoning trade relations, security cooperation, and improved cultural and educational exchanges are resulting in a win-win situation, as it will not only benefit China but will also go a long way towards changing the lives of millions of Africans living in dire poverty, systemic corruptions and oppression.

The overall scenario clearly indicates a move towards deepening ties and strengthening Sino-African relations based on peace, cooperation, and mutual trust.  Editor:Lucky

(Source_title:Sino-African relation: Heading towards a brighter future)