China believes that both non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and people are a crucial force for maintaining regional peace and development. The China-Africa People-to- People exchange is a strong complement to state relations and a great force to support the friendship between countries.
The China NGO Network for International Exchanges (CNIE) is dedicated to improving NGO exchange and cooperation between China and other countries.
Such cooperation bore fruit when a delegation of civil society organizations (CSOs) and journalists from ten Africa countries visited the world’s most populous nation at the end of last year. The objective of the tour was to learn China’s best practices on poverty alleviation and the country’s giant leap to prosperity.
Nineteen CSOs and media representatives from Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Ghana met in Beijing at workshop on China- Africa Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership: Role of Civil Society.
CNIE organized the African delegation visit subsequent to the November 27, 2015, meeting between the Director of the Department of Citizens and Diaspora Organizations (CIDO) and the Head of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) Secretariat, Dr Jinmi Adisa, with a delegation from CNIE, led by the Deputy Director, Shi Guohui.
The objective of CNIE is to promote understanding between the Chinese and other people, maintaining and developing long-term friendly relations. The workshop in Beijing had featured such topics as the development concept in China and the role of CSOs delivered by Guohui.
Other topics included the China-Africa relations, poverty alleviation and development of Chinese poverty alleviation policies. Guohui noted that China has about 700,000 active CSOs at the community level, of which the role is not to challenge the government but rather to encourage development of their communities by conforming to the national policies. “We consider this platform as an ongoing process.
It’s a long time agenda of China-African relations,” Guohui said. There seems to be a deficit, especially in terms of mutual understanding between both China and Africa. This complexity is the bridge which calls for the need to help African friends to have a true picture of China unlike what is being portrayed in various media reports. “In implementing the People- to-People relations, our aim is not to impose any of our development models but if it can give you some insights it’s very good,” Guohui noted.
Along with the workshop in Beijing, the delegation went on learning tours to Ghuizhou and Fujian Provinces. The mission visited the country’s fascinating tourist attraction sites such as the JuYongGuan Great Wall in Beijing, Huangguoshu Waterfalls, Scenic Spot in Anshun City and the Ancient Ginkgo Village of Shiqiao Township. The delegation also visited Haiping and Shuangdong villages and Liuzhi Special District in Guizhou to see the practices of small town developments and rural tourism.
It also toured Miluo Kiwi Fruit Industrial Park located in Miluo Township, famous for growing Kiwi fruits. In Fujian Province, the team visited Linca Group, an industrial park comprising of products from across the world.
The delegation also visited Youth Innovation Park and Local Flavour Block in Shaxian County, Jinsha Industrial Park and the Ancient Seven Alleys. In his remarks, the African CSO Head of Delegation, Lucas Qakaza, who is also a member of the National Committee and Head of International Relations of South African National Civic Organization (SANCO), said time has come for Africans to use the knowledge and cooperation between countries to promote development.
“It has been vividly demonstrated to us on how China is using its own resources and manpower to lift its own development. China’s busy with its own internal business of uplifting its people through various designed models and programmes, he said.
He said the Chinese have proven to the world that when people are busy participating in their own development the fruits become worthwhile for current and future generations. “Africa is the richest continent in the world in terms of resources but it’s also the poorest in development.
As a continent, we have to evaluate ourselves and come up with our own solutions,” Qakaza observed. In 2012, CNIE and AU Committee co-hosted the Second China-Africa People’s Forum in Suzhou, China. During the forum, President Xi Jinping, then the Vice- President of China, called on Chinese and African NGOs to abide by the three principles of exchanges and cooperation for the two sides to become good friends and partners in sincerity.
He raised important proposals that include carrying forward good traditions and safeguarding common interests and keeping abreast of the changing times. Among other key issues raised were to persist in practical cooperation for mutual benefit, increase solidarity and jointly build a harmonious world as well as to seek all round cooperation for an alldimensional development of China-Africa relations. He also called for the improvement of political, civil, economic, strategic and social bases for bilateral cooperation.
The 4th China-Africa People’s Forum took place on August 26, 2015, in Yiwu, China, under the formal auspices of CNIE and African Union (AU) ECOSOC. This convention concluded with the adoption of a declaration on People-to-People Cooperation between Africa and China.
A number of proposals for deliberation and discussions were presented by CNIE within a framework of establishing a roadmap for implementation of the outcomes of the People’s Forum. The objective of the meeting was to initiate planning for the implementation of the forum’s outcomes for a period of three years.
A key role in enabling the success of the People’s Forum From China with agenda of peaceful co-existence was highlighted and concluded with the adoption of a Declaration on People-to-People Cooperation was pinpointed at the Summit of the Forum on China- Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
CNIE delegation presented a number of proposals for deliberation and discussion within the framework of establishing a guide for the implementation of the outcomes of the People’s Forum.
This time around, the African CSOs under the guidance of the Presiding Officer of AU ECOSOCC, Joseph Chilengi, agreed to speed up the process by establishing a joint Steering Committee to guide People-to- People exchanges and projects under the partnership.
The proposed Steering Committee once formed would comprise of members from CNIE and AU ECOSOCC as well as CSO representatives from China and Africa along with drawing up plans for the effective and efficient implementation of forum outcomes.
It was further recommended that a mechanism for regular meetings between the two sides be established in order to enable the Steering Committee, once constituted, to meet and coordinate projects and initiatives in accordance with the interests and priorities of the China-Africa Cooperation.
Civil Society Organizations had been urged to assume responsibility of supporting the implementation of the FOCAC Summit outcomes by leveraging the considerable influence of civil society in their respective regions.
The two sides had further agreed on the importance of formulating China-Africa joint positions on international issues in order to ensure that the perspectives and interests of the developing world are strengthened in the sphere.
In his remarks delivered on behalf of the Presiding Officer of the AU ECOSOCC, Chilengi, Dr Adisa emphasized the critical role that CSOs stand to play in both Africa and China as partners and collaborators of government, especially on development issues.
He affirmed the readiness of ECOSOCC to popularize the outcomes of the FOCAC Summit throughout its network of CSOs across the African Continent. Dr Adisa had also called for the creation of a civil societyfunding envelope within the FOCAC process to support people-to-people cooperation between the two sides.
He further underlined the need for the integration of CSOs into the FOCAC process itself, such that their representatives will be enabled to participate even if only in an observer capacity. It was stressed that such participation would allow civil society to understand, appreciate and disseminate the merits of the FOCAC process within CSO across both continents.
The Head of the ECOSOCC Secretariat had assured the CNIE delegation that his office would associate the China- Africa cooperation to its work with regional bodies in Africa Including the Regional Economic Committees (RECs).
He, however, emphasized on the need for both the Chinese Diaspora in Africa and the African Diaspora in China to be associated with the partnership process and associated projects. The two sides further agreed to initiate a process to develop a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to codify and guide their cooperation in future.
Source: FOCAC | Updated Jan18