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China can help build the Africa we want

AU commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma File photo: Sizwe Ndingane

Cape Town – Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has said that strong relations between Africa and China would help to build the Africa many people envisioned.

Speaking on day one of the two-day China-Africa Colloquium on Thursday at the University of Cape Town (UCT), Dlamini-Zuma said in her keynote address: “The relations between Africa and China must, and we believe will, contribute to the Africa we want.”

During a panel discussion chaired by UCT Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Francis Petersen, the session began the colloquium, this year titled “Evolving Sino-African Relations”.

“At the turn of the millennium, which was when FORCAC started, the United Nations called us the 21st century development challenge,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

Learning from China, Dlamini-Zuma said the continent’s ability to redefine itself was possible.

“We believe we can effect change within a generation. China did it, so we can too.”

Dlamini-Zuma said the continent continued to face challenges, ones it had to resolve on its own and others with the help of the international community such as China.

“We have the youngest population so we have to provide our young people with education – namely science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – employment, sanitation, and health.

On health, Dlamini-Zuma thanked African countries for rallying together and China for being one of the first countries to answer the continent’s call for help in tackling the Ebola outbreak.

She also put it to the Chinese government to assist Africa in securing a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

“We are not asking for a favour. We are asking for the correction of historical injustice,” she said.

Joining Dlamini-Zuma on the panel were UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price, China’s Ambassador to South Africa TIAN Xuejan, and Director of the Institute for African Alternatives (IFAA) Professor Ben Turok.

Price said the relationship between China and Africa was one that would change world economic traditions.

“We will look at the growth path of two rising economic regions,” said Price.

He said China’s investment in Africa, trade relations, the BRICS Bank and other important issues would be addressed throughout the colloquium.

“By the next half of the century, experts foresee the continent being the fastest growing continent and China will be the biggest economy.”

Price said the goal of the colloquium was to “examine the far-reaching consequences of Sino-African relations”.

Xuejan followed Price in delivering his address, saying the China-Africa relationship was one of “sincere friendship”.

“Africa is a continent of hope,” said Xuejan.

He said like Africa, China was growing and had prioritised development.

Xuejan also listed ways in which China’s relations and investment in Africa were “sincere and in good faith”.

Included in this was the support China gave to liberation movements in their struggles for freedom, approximately 9,000 scholarships in Africa annually, and that the Asian superpower had the largest peacekeeping presence in Africa compared to the rest of the UNSC permanent members.

Xuejan said China’s focus in Africa over the next three years involved prioritising industrialisation, health cooperation “in the post-Ebola era”, and peace and security cooperation.

“China is willing to work with Africa and the international community in the safeguarding of peace,” said Xuejan.

“China always supports Africa in resolving African issues in an African way.”

Turok spoke briefly, voicing his hope for the evolution of Sino-African relations.

“I hope that this colloquium will assist in producing a better and more just international order,” said Turok.

“I repeat, a better and more just international order.”

The colloquium was a joint initiative of UCT’s Confucius Institute in the International Academic Programmes Office, the Centre for African Studies, and the IFAA.

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