Southern African News Features                                           SANF 12 No 17 , May 2012

China’s economic miracle – what lessons for Africa?


The emergence of China as a leading economic powerhouse has opened vast opportunities for Africa to participate in global affairs as an equal partner.

The Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Xin Shunkang said this at a seminar in Harare at the Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies on China-Africa Relations in Southern Africa.

He said China’s desire to assist Africa to achieve sustainable development had transformed world affairs and encouraged countries to relate on equal footing “In our relations, we do not set the rules,” Shunkang said, “we come to the African continent to share our experiences and help build the continent.”

For example, trade volume between China and Africa has increased tremendously over the past decade, from about US$10 billion in 2000 to more than US$160 billion in 2011. Chinese investment in Africa has increased from US$490 million in 2003 to about US$14.7 billion in 2011.

China also maintained business and trade ties with at least 163 countries and regions, and has signed about 10 free-trade-zone agreements and bilateral investment treaties with more than 129 countries.

He said China and Africa have a lot to learn from each other and it is therefore, important for the two to continue working together.

He noted that China would strive to maintain and improve its economic prosperity since the rest of the world now depends on China for its own development.

“If China is stable, the world is also stable,” he said, adding that any negative socio-economic developments in China would have a huge impact across the whole world.

The solution to keeping China and the rest of the world stable is to fully commit towards economic development and be willing to undertake reform that promotes sustainable growth.

He said China would continue to work with the rest of the world to address the global financial crisis that affected the world since 2000 and ensure the global economy is stabilized.

Zimbabwe’s former ambassador to China, Christopher Mutsvangwa said Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa has more to gain by improving their relations with China.

He said Africa has historically fared better when in partnership with Asian countries than with European countries.

“Africa’s prosperity has always been tied with Asia. Africa has done well in its history when relations with Asian countries such as India and China are good, and the continent has performed poorly when its relations with Asia are pushed further away,” Mutsvangwa observed.

He said the emergence of China as a leading economic powerhouse is good news to Africa as it affords the continent the opportunity to participate in global affairs as an equal partner.

Other participants at the seminar also discussed China’s efforts in world politics, saying it was reconstructing the old world order that saw most powerful nations dominating developing countries.

Ambassador Xin has been very popular in Zimbabwe, gaining the nickname “chakanaka chakanaka” which means “what is good is good”. He is leaving Zimbabwe after three years but will remain within the region and is expected to move to Namibia.

Members of the diplomatic community, academics, government officials, business executives and the media attended the seminar that was jointly organized by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) and the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe.

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