Southern African News Features                                           SANF 11 No 31, October 2011
China Africa Think Tank Forum aims to strengthen dialogue
By Joseph Ngwawi in Hangzhou, China
China and Africa have taken another step to strengthen relations with the launch of a forum to promote research and exchanges among think tanks from both places.

Representatives of think tanks, political and business leaders from China and 27 African countries gathered in the Chinese cities of Hangzhou and Jinhua at the end of October for the first meeting of the China-Africa Think Tank Forum (CATTF).

The new forum establishes a mechanism for Chinese and African think tanks to exchange ideas and conduct cooperative work toward deeper understanding of China-African relations.

Held under the theme “Sino-African Relations in the Second Decade of the New Century”, the meeting reviewed the achievements of the development of Sino-African relations in the past decade, analysed the existing problems and challenges facing current Sino-African relations and the outlook for development and areas of potential innovation in the next decade.

“We regard the China-Africa Think Tank Forum as a positive initiative and believe that it is timely and necessary to convene its 1st meeting at this time,” the participants said in a statement at the end of the meeting.

“We also believe it should be a shared platform and regular institution for dialogue and exchanges between Chinese and African think tanks in the new era.”

Sino-African cooperative relations have experienced rapid development since 2000 and, powered by the core engine of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the growing ties have become one of the most significant areas in international relations in the past decade.

“We are experiencing an accelerated shift in global power structures, with the long-established dominance of the West in structures of power, trade and economy being challenged by the South and East,” Essop Pahad, the former Minister in the Presidency in South Africa under Thabo Mbeki, said during the launch of the forum.

Chinese Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zhai Jun hailed the expanding relations between China and Africa and said CATTF should be the catalyst for moving the existing ties forward during the second decade of FOCAC.

“The think tanks have a role to promote China-Africa relations and together we will work with African governments to cultivate a win-win situation,” Zhai said.

CATFF will be instrumental in setting up links among Chinese and African think tanks as well as scholars from other parts of the world with an interest in Sino-African relations to conduct dialogue, exchanges and studies on the blossoming ties between China and Africa in a bid to promote mutual understanding and offer policy recommendations.

The forum has the full support of the FOCAC Follow-up Committee as a further step to implement the China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Programme, one of the eight measures announced by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of FOCAC in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt in November 2009.

Participants at the launch came from Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Zimbabwe and the African Union.

A new Institute on Policy and Strategic Studies on China-Africa Relations in Southern Africa has been established in Harare by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which was represented at the forum.

The launch is followed by an extended seminar of Chinese and African think tanks taking place at the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University in Jinhua. Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region.

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SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985

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