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Realities: Africa should learn from China

By zeray hailemariam Abebe
Tigrai Online, Oct. 11, 2014

“If you give a person a fish for a day, he eats for a day but if you teach him how to fish, he eats his entire life”: a Chinese proverb in practice in Africa!

Conceivably,  it is time that for we  Africans initiate to inquiry the very stuffs we have been struggling  to attain for centuries, yet receiving the akin endings which are entirely unlike from our communal aspirations; hope of economic affluence for the entire, aspirations of political stability for all; a continent devoid of wild diseases; a continent where people would have the confidence to believe that they can realize their dreams and therefore do not have to seek for rosy proposals from the other world. By the virtue of the fact they happen to be poor sons and daughters of this naturally rich continent which has been a mystery for all people around the world. How a man can be poor in a place abundantly rich?

In the last decades, however, it seems we are achieving some imperative millstones of political stability and economic growth across the continent. Though, this does not mean there are not challenging bottlenecks here and there in the entire continent. To be specific, the achievements gained in the past years are better than the remaining manageable challenging factors rather! Yet, all what we have been doing to achieve them and our aspirations remain unsynchronized.

Hitherto, we could discover from the rapid economic development of the East Asian Economies, specifically China that are surprising the whole world.

It is not very fascinating to learn that China has managed to befall the second largest economy in the world and is even rumored these days to have overtaken the US to become the number one largest economy in the world.

To some of us, it is no unanticipated because the stable rise of China in the global politico-economy is, but hinged on what is documented as the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence”. The three Chinese generation leaderships have been consistent in implementing effectively these five core principles for China’s all round changes. Interestingly, the various Pan-African institutions established on the continent after decades upon decades, have consistently failed to meet even half of its set objectives. Yet China, a country with over 1.3 billion people has been able to institutionalize these principles to go well with guiding principles to modernize their economy which notify their presence in the global economy. What has gone wrong in Africa? The main driving forces for Chinese politico-economy have been scrutinized by so many scholars for decades. However, few of them have tried to apply into African realties.

the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence which are mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence . This is a five in one principle that has been put into operation well locally and globally. Evidently, China has ever never invaded or interfered in the affairs of weak or mighty countries in history. They are principles institutionalized properly which have brought stability and economic miracle practically.

Five in one

These five principles introduced into the Chinese system a new paradigm; one which is infused with Chinese characteristics which have become the guideline in China’s international relations and diplomacy. It is that which caused China to become even more relevant in the global political economy. It has helped China to establish enviable relations with over 160 countries across the world without much difficulty. A case in point to be learned by Pan-African institutions to strengthen the tie between the 54 fragmented countries across the continent.

Just like the Organization of African Unity now the African Union in 1963, committed to certain principles of pan-Africanism to free Africa from colonialists first of all and then from economic rule, also in 1954, China and India, the two giants in Asia established diplomatic relations. It became China’s fundamental and everlasting norms guiding international relations and has played and continues to play a key role in safeguarding world peace and development.

A careful economic and political structure, concepts and soft ideologies, which have contributed to the rise of China, could be revealed as lessons that Africa could learn from in order to achieve the African dreams. The Pan-African dream of a fully developed Africa, not just in few countries, but in all countries across the continent can grasp a practical lesson from China. 

The Five Principles established 60 years ago still resonate very well with the Chinese dream which is set to be rejuvenated to the next level; a level I think would help Africa to become politically stable and food sufficient. The Chinese leaders executed a strategies first political stability which led to economic miracles. This is the very thing Africa can learn from China and realize it, to say the least. It is proven fact that without political stability, there is no country that managed to achieve anything.

China and Africa

China is a powerful force in Africa at least economically. The China-Africa relation started dating back into the 1960s and 1970s. But really, the relation came to the fore in 2006 when 48 African leaders attended a joint forum in Beijing. The Forum on China - Africa Cooperation is the name of the meeting between the People's Republic of China and the nation-states of Africa. There have been five summits held to date, with the most recent meeting having occurred from July 19 - 20, 2012 in Beijing, China. Not forgetting the BRICS initiative led obviously by China.

In 1980, the total Sino-African trade volume was US$1 billion. In 2010, trade between Africa and China was worth 114 billion and in 2011, US$166.3 billion. In the first 10 months of 2012 it was US$163.9 billion. Currently, there are an estimated 800 Chinese corporations doing business in Africa, most of which are private companies investing in the infrastructure, energy and banking sectors which are backbone for Africa’s development. Chinese aid, trade and investment in Africa have contributed 20% for Africa’s total economic growth witnessing truly that China is playing a savoir role for Africans unlike the west whose aid and investments are full of preconditions that have negative impact on Africa’s all rounded changes.

At the level of attitude, China sees its interest in development as directly linked with Africa. Of course, that is what has necessitated for the constant engagement between African countries and China in the last decade.


China’s expansive engagement has raised hopes across Africa that China will turn its attention to long-neglected areas such as infrastructure, ICT, agricultures and that its strategic approach will raise Africa’s global status, intensify political and market competition, create promising new choices in external partnerships, strengthen African capacities to combat malaria and HIV/AIDS and promote economic growth. Africa must be grateful for China for treating her as a continent of opportunities; a different approach from the west who has been treating Africa as a continent of hopeless and litmus paper for their policies. It is China which is creating vast investment and competitive manner in Africa which led the other world to look into Africa. Africa must implement effectively these opportunities opened by China into its poverty reductions strategies. It also raises nettlesome policy issues and complex implementation challenges that China will increasingly confront in the future.

Africa’s objective

On the African continent, we seek for peace and security, political stability and economic development. These have always been our target all these years, yet we have consistently missed on these targets. Yet under the first principle, China adheres to culture of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of member countries in Asia. They have consistently pursued a neighborhood policy of building amity and friendship, and firm in their resolve to uphold China’s territorial sovereignty. These principles are again the guiding principles of China with Africa which I think are breading fruitful results. Africa has never been treated this way making China the first country to do so and Africa must be lucky and grateful for China. They interestingly believe in repaying kindness with kindness and meeting wrong doings with justice.

Running through the Five Principle of Peaceful co-existence, commitment from China to strengthen cooperation with Africa in multilateral systems and to appeal to the international community to pay more attention to questions concerning peace and development in Africa is seen. This is also reflected in what is referred to as strengthened exchange and cooperation in various social fields and support for African countries to enhance capacity building and cooperation to achieve sustainable development.

Regional turbulence courts disaster while stability in the neighborhood brings prosperity. Africa therefore owes its progress to a peaceful and stable regional environment, and peace and stability are fundamental safeguards for economic development and transformation.

Patriotism, working for china putting differences aside and a wish to see a strong China who will never receive humiliations from the world are shared attitudes which are said to be the driving factors for the current giant China.

We Africans are expected to learn and eternalize such values if we wanted to see a real prosperous Africa in the near future. Even China learnt from other countries (example from Singapore) on how to reach where it is now!

I think Ethiopia is among the few African states which has been effectively executing Chinese ways of doing business.

Ethiopian Airlines to get financial leasing help from ICBC

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