When the leaders of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) sit together in Beijing in September this year to map out the bloc’s future development and new way forward, much of the world’s attention will shift from the ongoing zero sum game and protectionism to the platform of south-south cooperation for the greater good of China-Africa’s friendship. This year’s FOCAC reflects the importance of mutual support for China and African countries and the overall future development of the African continent in the areas of industrialization and innovation based on shared values and respect for basic principles. As protectionism and zero sum game make its way into contemporary power politics, the world is increasingly confronted with the willful acts of high power politics of superiority state over other states, and the increasing instabilities and uncertainties in international political economic domains.
An Assistant Professor of the University of Liberia Graduate studies program offers insight into the importance of this year’s September FOCAC to be held in Beijing, the political heart of China, and the role expected of African leaders when they meet their counterparts from China in an unique but mutual discussions for the future of their respective countries. It is also expected that the forum will produce a remarkable result of win-win cooperation and will farther strengthen the bonds of friendship and enhances concrete benefits. Liberia needs to play a pivotal role as a key member and at the same time ensure that Liberia’s interest and membership in FOCAC are protected for a win-win cooperation. It is important that Liberia’s representatives to this year’s September FOCAC be proactive, engage their Chinese counterparts and understand the dynamics of contemporary international relations for the greater good of the nation to enable Liberia is to benefit from FOCAC’s dividends, just like other African countries like South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
In fact, FOCAC’s leaders have long realized this and started cooperation soon after the bloc started institutionalizing its ten-plan platform which implementation depends on full commitment of each member’s political will. In the post-decade, FOCAC has been a unique opportunity for China-Africa south-south cooperation. The Chinese Government has been accelerating and intensifying their efforts to make a substantial contribution toward the provision of hard infrastructure across Africa-ranging from financial assistance to the construction of pipelines, airport, ports, roads, refineries, railways and emery generation. This is having a huge multiplier effect on African economies and visible infrastructure development.
The Chinese-African scholars’ speeches provided a cool and composed contrast to Western journalists’ blustery demeanor and misperception of China-Africa’s ties. Generally, the African scholars in a rightly condemnation of Western journalists’ propaganda against Beijing, offered a subtle yet sharp rebuke of global media’s antiquated, anti-China economic growth and lack of conditionality toward aid to African governments and states. Interestingly, the strength of unity and mutual trust and respectability, among the Chinese and African scholars was unique, respecting each other’s chosen paths, shared values, innovation and accommodated each other’s core interests, ideas and concerns regarding FOCAC
Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)
As an important part of the forthcoming FOCAC Beijing Summit, the just ended 7th Meeting of China-Africa Think Tanks Forum focused on the theme: “China-Africa Relations Over the Course of Reform and Opening-up and the this year’s September Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.” The Seventh Meeting of China-Africa Think Tanks Forum, hosted by the Secretariat of Chinese Follow-up Committee of FOCAC was jointly organized by Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University and Center for International Strategic Studies of Counsellors’ Office of the State Council, convened from July 4-5 at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.
The Beijing Summit in September was extensively discussed with various suggestions how to positively move forward in several areas of the bloc’s ten plans such as the promotion of the Belt and Road construction which enhances more and more opportunities for China-Africa industrial cooperation and building China-Africa community with a shared future.
China-Africa Think Tanks Forum
The Think Tanks Forum has effectively promoted communication between scholars from China and Africa and improved mutual understanding, offering suggestions for the development of Chinese enterprises in Africa and African enterprises in China, and contributing to the development of China-Africa relations under the new situation. The just-ended Beijing’s forum attracted more than 380 scholars and representatives from 52 of the 55 African countries and China including African diplomatic corps in Beijing. Each of the scholars and leaders of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Counsellors’ Office of the State Council and China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation, and other well-known think tanks spoke at the occasion through a prepared text and power point presentations on various topics about China’s 40 years of opening up and FOCAC.
These speeches reviewed the successful experience of China’s reform and opening up from different perspectives, and concluded that Chinese experience bear implications and inspiration for the development of African countries. The extensive discussions were held on how to push forward the industrialization process on the continent and how to enhance China- Africa win-win cooperation in the field of infrastructure building, manufacturing and skill development. During the forum, the scholars analyzed China’s development experience, Africa’s opportunities and challenges for achieving sustainable development, and the mutually complementary and mutually beneficial advantages between China and Africa in their independent development.
They also exchanged ideas on the following issues: ways of promoting China-Africa cooperation in industrial capacity, infrastructure and agriculture, ways of increasing the voice of Asian and African countries on the international stage, the roles Chinese and African think tanks played in political and economic development, and means of enhancing the communication and cooperation between China and Africa in the field of film, television and new media.
China Remarkable Achievements
According to the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), China’s industrial output expanded 6.8 percent in May 2018. Its data also showed that country’s GDP rose to 80 trillion yuan (about 12.3 trillion US dollars), over 13 million jobs were created, more than 700 million of which 10 million rural residents were lifted out of poverty. China maintains diplomatic relationship with 54 of the 55 African states while Africa is the largest oversea destination for Chinese but the lack of well defined and effective policy formulations by African governments and leaderships are pulling the continent backward, while the issue of wide spread corruption, extortion fees and illegal payment demanded by African custom officers, immigration personnel and state actors which perpetually exist without a decisive punishment are also killing Africa’s growth, state actors in Beijing have said with no particular reference to any African country.
During the official opening of the China-Africa think tanks Forum, Mr. Justin Yifu Lin, Counselor of the State Council of China, complaint of the persistent harassments of Chinese diplomats and investors at port of entry by custom officers and immigration personnel and state officials in Africa. While another issue that is pulling the continent back is Africa lacked unified policy regarding development; each of the six regions has different policies in their interaction with China while China put into place particular policy towards all African states. Currently, China is undertaking over 6,000 projects across the six regions in Africa which include the construction of railroad, energy, roads, infrastructures, health and education support, training and construction of bridges, support to security and peacekeeping operations, agriculture, water and others
Other speakers from China urged Africa to develop labor industrials and cooperation, adding that Africa needs to realize that labor industrial is intense and increases labor industrial to an appreciable and greater level. The African scholars and Chinese counterparts noted that Africa’s foreign exchange and financial policy are not unique, and said Africa needs to rely on its ideas and innovations and not the western concept of development. They disclosed that china’s 40 years of opening up and remarkable achievement is based on Chines own ideas, principles and shared values.
The called for FOCAC to move forward in the areas of principles and quality for win-win cooperation and that cooperation should be more pragmatic. African countries, they reiterated need to establish industrialized pact, supported by social, economic and political stabilities across the African continent; complaining that the persistent change of leaderships and governments in Africa is stalling Africa’s core areas of interests for development. The constant change of political leadership is stalling Africa’s economic, social and political growth, which to greater extent leads to undermining of developmental projects.
China-Africa’s Scholars Concerns
Speaking separately, Africa’s scholars reiterated the need for African leaders and governments to institute industrialized policy based on shared values and principles; propounding that “Africa needs to formulate its own ideas and policies that marched the continent’s best practices, and not the western’s concept. They all agreed that Africa needs Industrialization and modernizations based on principles and shared values.
Almost all the scholars from Africa spoke of the importance of the September’s FOCAC and said African governments and leaderships need to identify priority areas of interests of investment for China to assist. These areas, they added should be based on principles and shared values conformity with bloc’s ten plans program. “Investment requires the capacities to undertake detailed comprehensive studies regarding how to manage projects”.
Other speakers from China expressed their concerns that the people of China hope that the September’s FOCAC will pave the way for Africa’s governments and leaderships to tell their Chinese counterparts what Africa wants from China and not for Chinese leadership to determine what Africa needs. He indicated that China is willing to help in other areas for a win-win cooperation based on shared values and principles but firstly, African leaders need to focus on economic growth and social development.
Overviews of China’s growth rate
The Chinese Assistant Minister of foreign Affairs, Mr. Chen Xiaodong revealed that by 2025 China’s growth rate will be 21% and noted that by 2020 China will become the world’s largest export. Presently, he said China’s export has overtaken the United States of America. He said from 2012 to present, over seven hundred millions Chinese have been removed from poverty, making china the first country in the world to meet the Millennium Development goal (MDG); while by 2025, China will become the highest income country of the world.
According to him, African governments and leaderships have lots of lessons to be learned about China’s remarkable achievements of the 40 years of opening up; reminding African scholars that agriculture has played a very important part in China’s moving forward. “ More Asian states have seized the opportunity of the transformation of labor industrial in moving forward, Africa needs to learn from these countries for its own development and economic growth.,”, he noted
It was further revealed that 124 million Chinese are working in intense labor industries across China while in Africa, China has created high earned jobs for over Ten Million people in the labor industries across Africa, promising to create more jobs for Africans on the continent in the coming years, as the Chinese Government is expected to increase its projects and programs on the African continent.
They reminded African scholars that good development depends on good governance and unique social order depends on strong government and strong industries, cautioning that Africa should not focus on what industries take away but what Africa can gain from industries for human development and general growth of the African continent.
Analysis of China-Liberia GDP
Over the past decades, China’s GDP has averaged a yearly growth rate of about 9.5 percent. While in terms of foreign trade, China has registered a yearly growth of over 14.5 percent in U.S. dollars. In the last 10 years, with China’s strength in the workforce, capital, market and technology, the nation, on average, contributed 30 percent of the global economic growth yearly, sharing the benefits of China’s development with the world. According to Chen Xiaodong, Assistant Minister of Foreign, China has made remarkable achievements in various areas, coming one step closer to realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. The country’s GDP rose to 80 trillion yuan (about 12.3 trillion US dollars), over 13 million jobs were created, more than 700 million of which 10 million rural residents were lifted out of poverty, the first Chinese-built aircraft carrier was launched, and the quality of the environment has improved.
In the past 40 years, a total of 800 million Chinese are helped out of poverty which amounted to over 70 percent global poverty reduction. Besides, China is the first developing country to meet the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations in terms of poverty reduction. China has backed up this proposal with a fund of US$60 billion for major capital projects. These projects are tied to developing locals’ economic capacity, for a win-win cooperation to be sustainable. So as the Chinese people celebrate their four decades of reforms and opening up, African leaders will want to remain the West of their application of China’s snowballing significance as their leading development partner.
For instance, China is the strongest partner of several African states including South Africa; in 2017 bilateral trade between the two countries increased by 11.65 percent year on year to reach US$39.17billion. Today, China is South Africa largest trading partner and a major source of investment and oversea tourists.
Liberia is a low-income country that relies heavily on foreign assistance and remittances from the Diaspora. It is richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture. Its principal exports are iron ore, rubber, diamonds, and gold. Palm oil and cocoa are emerging as new export products. According to World Bank latest statistics, Liberia’s Gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2017 is estimated at 2.5% compared to a deceleration of 1.6% in 2016 and zero percent growth in 2015. While Chinas per-capita GDP exceeded US$800 in 2017; in the past 40 years, a total of 800 million Chinese are helped out of poverty which amounted to over 70 percent global poverty reduction.
I have no doubt that FOCAC will become an example of mutual understand and friendship and make new contributions to the establishment of a new type of international relations featuring a community of shared values and win-win cooperation. The administration needs to develop a comprehensive blue-print roadmap of areas of concentration to seek financial assistance from the financial institutions setup by China, such as China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation and China-Africa Development Fund.
Vivid Data of China investment in Africa
“China has put forward China-Africa plan which the Chinese Government hopes that African governments and leaderships will utilize doing this year’s September FOCAC by presenting a clearly defined blue print for assistance based on mutual understandings, principle and shared values”, they added.
They explained that China is committed to Africa’s infrastructure, agriculture and industrial assistance which must be supported by stabilities and shared values, expressing concern that Africa’s constant change of political leadership usually undercuts China’s projects on the continent. They expressed shock that despite the abundance of resources and world second populated continent, Africa has the world’s lower income.
According to them, Chinese Government believed that development holds the key to solving all problems in China while African needs to learn from China but political stabilities and a well defined policies should be assured on the African continent, and said Africa should learn how to resolve and solve conflict in a most respectable and positive manner
These financial openings were actually explained by Mr. Lu Lei, Deputy Administrator of the State Administration of China Foreign Exchange, during the recent China-Africa Think Tank Forum held in Beijing. He told the forum of 350 scholars from China and Africa that trade and investment between China and African states need to be increased, but said the process must be based on honesty, sincerity and clear policies conformity with the principles and shared values in pursuing core interests.
In his statistics, Mr. Lu Lei narrates that China is undertaking US$14 Billion investments in Africa while China-Africa’s development has funded US$330 million projects in Africa in one of Africa’s six regions. Additional US$110 Million for development in Africa for the current year of 2018 has been approved. African countries need to access the development assistance through unique projects that are in conformity with principles and shared values shielded by mutual understanding.
According to Mr. Lu Lei, the Bank of China has over US$100 Billion investment in Africa which is geared towards achieving a win-win cooperation between China and African countries, while the Bank is also supporting projects in 47 of the 55 countries in Africa, the Bank prioritizes economic and social development to boost production, economic growth and welfare of the people.
Mr. Lu Lei records that African countries like Tanzania, Sudan, Kenya, Senegal, Egypt, Uganda and Ethiopia among others are highly benefiting from the Bank’s projects. The Bank of China, he disclosed is supporting dozens of various types of tangible projects across Africa while it also involved in cooperation, financial development in Africa and human development. It helped to train over 5,000 Kenyans.
Our leaders need to learn more about China’s remarkable transformation and draw lessons from the Asian Tiger and Japanese miracle so that they can be passed down from generation to generation. More efforts should be made to ensure grain production, optimize agricultural structure, and increase farmers’ loan scheme and income, wins the battle against corruption and poverty to put Liberia on par with other African countries like Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Senegal in the areas of vitalization.
According to him African countries such as Tanzania, Sudan, Kenya, Senegal, Egypt, Uganda and Ethiopia among others are highly benefiting from the Bank’s projects. The bank of China, he disclosed is supporting dozens of various types of tangible projects across Africa while it also involved in cooperation, financial development in Africa and human development. It helped to train over 5,000 Kenyans.
One of the Chinese scholars who also spoke at the Forum discloses that most African states lack a strong governments and vibrant institutions, stating that Africa needs stabilities, strong governments and strong institutions. He wants African governments and leaderships to prioritize quality education since education plays a crucial role in economic and social development of a state. According to him African presidents and heads of governments expected to attend the September’s FOCAC need to balance demands through interventions based on policies, principles, shared valued and mutual understanding.
Who Attended the China-Africa Think tank Forum
The opening ceremony was chaired by Jiang Guojun, Secretary of the Committee of Zhejiang Normal University of the Communist Party of China (CPC). During the ceremony, Jiang delivered a welcome address, which was followed by keynote speeches from Chen Xiaodong, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zhang Yantong, Deputy Director of the Counselors’ Office of the State Council.
Others were, Victor Sikonina, Head of the African Diplomatic Corps in China and Madagascan Ambassador to China, Lu Lei, Deputy Administrator of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, Merthold Monyae, President of Confucius Institute at University of Johannesburg, Justin Yifu Lin, Counselor of the State Council and Dean of the Institute of New Structural Economics at Peking University, and Mohammed Tawfik Mouline, Director of Moroccan Royal Institute for Strategic Studies.
The two-day official activities were the Opening Ceremony, Plenary Session One, Parallel Panel Discussions, Plenary Session Two, and the Closing Ceremony. Plenary Session One was chaired by Liu Hongwu, Dean of the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University. The keynote speeches were delivered by Peter Kagwanja, President of African Policy Institute in Kenya, Li Xinfeng, Deputy Director of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Stephane Ngwanza, Vice President of the Institute of International Relations of Cameroon, Xie Ping.
Also present were the Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of China, Joseph Sheku Margai, Member of the African Center of the China International Press Center and a senior journalist of Sierra Leone Concord Times, and He Maochun, Counselor of the State Council and Director of the Center for Economic Diplomacy Studies at Tsinghua University while Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Liberia graduate Studies program, Dr. Josephus Moses Gray delivered a speech at Parallel Panel Discussions on the topic: “Experience and Inspirations of China and Africa in the Independent Exploration of Development Paths” .
Who Said What
The three Parallel Panel Discussions, centering on the topics of “40 Years of China’s Reform and Opening up and the Development of China-Africa Relations,” “Experience and Inspirations of China and Africa in the Independent Exploration of Development Paths” and “China-Africa Think Tanks and Media Cooperation: Strengthen the Effectiveness of Communication and Increase the Voice,” will be moderated respectively by Shu Zhan, Former Chinese Ambassador to Eritrea and Rwanda and Senior Researcher with the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University, Gaston Hakiza, President of National School of Administration of Burundi, and Zerihun Woldu, Vice President of Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.
Plenary Session Two and the closing ceremony was chaired by Dean Liu Hongwu, with the fruits of the forum summarized by Han Hongmei, President of China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation, Charles Onunaiju, Director of the Center for China Studies of Nigeria, Yang Guang, Former Director of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Fang Ning, Counselor of the State Council and Former Deputy Director of the Counselors’ Office of the State Council. Zheng Mengzhuang, President of Zhejiang Normal University addressed the closing session.
With the support of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China-Africa Think Tanks Forum was established by the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University in 2011 and was officially incorporated into the framework of the FOCAC in 2012. It has become a fixed mechanism for China-Africa people-to-people dialogue, holding meetings each year in China and Africa in rotation. Since its establishment, six meetings have been successfully held, with fruitful outcomes achieved.
Chen Xiaodong, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chen Xiaodong, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China has disclosed that in the past 40 years, China and several African countries have made remarkable progress hand in hand and added that the two sides have enhanced political mutual trust since China’s reform and opening up.
He discloses that China has also moved closer to the global center stage, playing an increasingly prominent role in world affairs. As China celebrates its 40th anniversary of reform and opening up in 2018, President Xi Jinping vowed to press ahead with reform until the ultimate triumph.
Delivering the opening address of the recent Seventh Meeting of the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum held in Beijing, Minister Chen Xiaodong said the year 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up, adding that during this period, China achieved its own rapid development, and also committed to building a common future for human peace and development. Just as Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out at the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia in April, over the past four decades, China has embraced the world with open arms and actively contributed its share to the world. Reform and opening up is a great process that has seen China and the world, especially China and African countries, achieve development and progress together.
He told the conference that over the past 40 years, China-Africa economic and trade cooperation has achieved leap-forward development. The trade volume between China and Africa increased more than 200 times from $765 million in 1978 to over $170 billion in 2017. China has maintained its position as Africa’s largest trade partner for many years. “China’s 40 years of opening up have made remarkable achievements that have attracted the attention of the world. The experience proved to be invaluable to developing countries, especially African countries,” said Mohamed Fayez Farahat Mahmoud, Senior Researcher of Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Egypt.
Also speaking at the International forum, Mr. Justin Yifu Lin, Counselor of the State Council of China and Dean of the Institute of New Structural Economics at Peking University, said that the reason why China has achieved such a great success after 1978 is because of its changing thought of development. He revealed that in the past, when pursuing the modernization, African countries usually acquired experience and theory from developed countries. However, as an old Chinese saying goes, the tasty orange grown in south China would turn sour once it is grown in the north. The situation between developed countries and African countries are totally different.
Speaking further, he said the preconditions in Africa are similar to those in China. Therefore, the experience accumulated during the 40 years of China’s reform and opening up and the theory it has formed will have greater reference value for African countries and other developing countries, according to Lin. He said: At present, the infrastructure in most African countries is relatively poor, which is the bottleneck of economic development. Lin believes that the Belt and Road Initiative will be an important opportunity for African countries to solve the bottlenecks and achieve industrialization.
He reiterated that in addition to economic cooperation and development, in the context of the current international situation, the competition for international discourse rights has become more intense, and China-Africa relations and cooperation have also faced a more complicated public opinion environment. Chen suggested that China and African media should tell their story from their own perspective when responding to Western media, especially in cases where coverage is biased.
Also speaking, Li Yafang, President of Beijing Review, believes that Chinese and African media should seek common ground and put aside differences while respecting cultural diversity. She suggested Chinese and African media increase cooperation and exchanges so as to promote mutual understanding of peoples in China and Africa.
Liberia’s representative to the Thin Tank Forum
In his speech, Liberia’s representative to the just-ended China-Africa Think Tanks Forum, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Liberia graduate Studies program, Prof. Josephus Moses Gray disclosed that African countries are developing rapidly, and many countries on the continent have taken up leading roles in promoting democracies, political stability, shared values and industrialization.
In his keynote speech delivered at the 2nd Plenary Session of the Forum, Professor Gray said that the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in Beijing in September should focus on industrialization in Africa, and explore best industrial practice, job creation, win-win cooperation using industrialization as a tool for poverty reduction, and the opportunities that exist for China and Africa to cooperate more beneficially.
He further added that that China-Africa industrial cooperation projects have helped accelerate the industrialization process on the continent, adding that African leaders should respect shared values and considered the plight of their people, adding that African leaderships should attend FOCAC with a clear objectives of areas of support including flagship projects such as road constructions for the African continent connectivity, human resource development, job creations, railways, seaports, airports, industrial parks, and economic zone.
Prof. Gray added that if Africa is not independent economically and relies on foreign aid, it is hard to be independent socially and politically; and without economic development, he said Africa can never overcome abject poverty, huge unemployment and conflicts on the continent.
The forthcoming FOCAC should show African leaders how to fish than simply give him the fish and ensure that the issue of socio-economic and political “management” will be at the top of the agenda, to help keep the continent on the par with other continents. China and Africa have since then become all-weather friends that understand, support and help each other. Fifty-one of the continent’s fifty-three countries have established diplomatic ties with China thus far, the most recent being South Sudan in 2011
China’s relations with Africa should adhere to the principles of good governance which include sincerity, inclusiveness, respect for the rule of law, practical results, affinity and good faith and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests. China and Africa “have always belonged to a community of shared values and fruitful future” and “have always been good friends who stand together through thick and thin, good partners who share weal and woe, and good brothers who fully trust each other despite changes in the international landscape.
Profoundly, let me at this forum extol China’s unwavering and productive policy towards Africa of non-interference in other nations’ internal affairs nor dictates to Africa to swallow the bitter pills of forced submission or risk the imposition of sanction or a blockage to aid. Nowadays, China remains a shining and deeply admired posture in the realm of mutual respect for others to be master of their own destiny and captain of their own future. Indeed, that praiseworthy.
Let me reiterate, China’s involvement is said to serve hope for Africa, as China provides an alternative political-economic framework for Africa while China in return stands to also benefit. Today, dozens of scholars have viewed China’s recent involvement in Africa as that of a development partner. Their basis of argument is that China’s presence presents an opportunity for development and economic growth, by providing aid to poverty stricken and marginalized countries like my country Liberia has helped to provide visible development assistance such as infrastructural, debt cancellation, scholarships, constructions of roads and bridges and provisions and support to health delivery and education systems.
China and Africa have shared comprehensive consensus on major international issues, common interests and a willingness to deepen their cooperation. The rapid development of the Sino-Africa relationship reveals on-going transitions that facilitate the move towards a new strategic partnership. China also emphasizes the notion of “respect” for African countries, embodied in its policy of noninterference in the domestic affairs of sovereign countries and in an approach to conflict resolution on the continent that is seen as much less confrontational as Western interventions.
Unlike the Western donors who tend to impose Western values like democratic ideas on Africa, China invests and provides aid without much preconditions and interference in their internal affairs, therefore, it is not unimaginable that China is regarded by Africa as a more cooperative and valuable partner to the West. Besides providing loans, China also invests in infrastructure development and many high-visibility projects, that the African leaders generally in favor. Physical infrastructure constructions have been long neglected if not avoided, by Western donors.
FOCAC has become a mechanism of collective consultation and dialogue between China and friendly African countries, providing a new platform of friendly exchange and cooperation between China and Africa. Besides bilateral channels, I am deeply convinced that with the concerted efforts of China and Africa, the forthcoming FOCAS Summit in September this year is bound to bring out more practical results, and breathe new vitality into the friendly relationship between China and Africa.
Liberia historical Perspective
The September FOCAC’s Summit is expected to welcome new democratically elected African leaders including the President of Africa’s oldest state, the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency President George Mannah Weah who cannot wait to attend FOCAC and make the case for China-African win-win situation. Let me share with this Forum a very interested historical fact about Liberia’s dynamic political system in Africa.
Interestingly, Liberia is not just the First African’s Republic but also the First to democratically elect the First Woman President in Africa, Her Excellency Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Again, Liberia is the First to elect a Soccer Legend as President in Africa, his Excellency, Mr. George Mannah Weah. Again and again, Liberia, the birth of the Organization of African Union (OAU) now African Union (AU) originated from, and was held in Liberia while Liberia was the first to produce the First Female President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the late ) Amb.) Mrs. Angie Brooks Randall.
How can Liberia benefit from FOCAC
Our leaders need to learn more about China’s remarkable transformation and draw lessons from the Asian Tiger and Japanese miracle so that can be passed down from generation to generation. More efforts should be made to ensure grain production, optimize agricultural structure, and increase farmers’ loan scheme and income, win the battle against corruption and poverty to put Liberia on par with other African countries like Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Senegal in the areas of vitalization.
Besides, Liberia needs a strong government supported by strong civil society institutions, political stability and a new vision of development through a self-developed ideas and innovations in order to achieve economic, social and infrastructure growth.
Considering the nation’s economic inertia, the right policy at the right time by the right people at the right time is instituted and that those at the helm of states’ power be proactive not reactive by literally knocking on the doors of vibrant financial institutions like the Bank of China for economic growth and human resource and infrastructure development. To achieve this goal, the right people with the requisite skills, experience, qualifications and education need to be accorded the task and place in the rightful position of national duty.
Being wary of zero sum game and protectionism in international politics, our leaders should not wait for their counterparts from China and other countries or investors to identify Liberia’s needs of interests; instead Liberia should pinpoint its priorities with emphasis on areas of interests for economic growth if the administration to achieve President Weah’s philosophy of pro poor which literally reflects poverty reduction. Those at the helm of state powers need to be ahead of the game, be farsighted and proactive and not place themselves in the position of literally “push and start” meaning inefficient and unproductive”
From the perspective of economic benefits, Liberia should take advantage of FOCAC to present its case for economic improvement, infrastructure and human resource development, and not to be spectators while other African countries diplomatically showcase their economic needs. Presently, Liberia’s GDP accounts as one of the less compared to over 40 African countries.
Considering the nation’s economic inertia, the right policy at the right time by the right people at the right place is instituted and that those at the helm of states’ power be proactive not reactive by literally knocking on the doors of vibrant financial institutions like the Bank of China for economic growth and human resource and infrastructure developments. To achieve this goal, the right people with the requisite skills, experience, qualifications and education need to be accorded the task and place in the rightful position of national duty.
Our leadership can play an active role in furthering mutually beneficial and win-win in terms of the West African political, Liberia occupied an important positions. Politically, China and Liberia maintain a unique friendship. Given Liberia’s poor economic situation, the forthcoming FOCAC should also be used to access China’s industrial pack and more importantly, pay keen attention to the Chinese miracle of economic practicability and achievement of 40 years, while the issue of foreign aid assistance from China should play second.
The current administration in Liberia needs to play a pivotal role as a key member and at the same time ensure that Liberia’s interest and membership in FOCAC are protected for a win-win cooperation. It is important that Liberia’s representatives to this year’s September FOCAC be proactive and understand the dynamics of contemporary politics if Liberia is to benefit from FOCAC’s dividends, just like other African countries like South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
From the perspective of economic benefits, Liberia should take advantage of FOCAC to present its case for economic improvement, infrastructure and human resource development, and not to be spectators while other African countries diplomatically showcased their economic needs. Presently, Liberia’s GDP accounts as one of the less compared to over 40 African countries.
Although Liberia is not a member of the bloc but the George Weah’s regime can use its friendship with China and other’s BRICS members like India, Russia, South Africa and Brazil to seek assistance in the form of loan. BRICS through its New Development Bank (NDB) offers a new choice for all the developing countries in their pursuit of self-sustainable development and the NDB African region office in Johannesburg has committed US$15 Billion for loan purposes.
Interestingly, Liberia is not just the First African’s Republic but also the First to democratically elect the First Woman President in Africa, Her Excellency Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirlead. Again, Liberia is the First to elect a Soccer Legend as President in Africa, his Excellency Mr. George Mannah Weah. Again and again, Liberia bears the planted seed that gave birth to the Organization of African Union (OAU) now African Union (AU) which indeed with pride and joy, originated from held in Liberia while Liberia was the first to produce the First Female President of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Our leadership can play an active role in furthering mutually beneficial and win-win in terms of the West African political, Liberia occupied an important positions. Politically, China and Liberia maintain a unique friendship. Given Liberia’s poor economic situation, the forthcoming FOCAC should also be used to access China’s industrial pack and importantly, pay keen attention to the Chinese’ miracle of economic practicability and achievement of 40 years, while the issue of foreign aid assistance from China should play second. The nation cannot continue to rely on foreign aid assistance. This will be an added advantage for this administration to successfully emerge from the current economic and international financial crisis, for the process of rapid recovery to achieve sustainable development for the realization of President Weah’s pro poor agenda.
More inspiringly, Liberia needs to reflect on China’s 40 years of opening up have made remarkable achievements that have attracted the attention of the world. And that country should use it diplomatic dynamics to knock on the doors of Chinese leaderships reassured its faithful commitment to the south-south cooperation, and reaffirm the government’s principles and shared values for the sole purpose of the obtainment of sustainable development in terms of an improved economic, industrialization and infrastructure development and African integration.
The nation cannot continue to rely on foreign aid assistance. This will be an added advantage for this administration to successfully emerge from the current economic and international financial quandary, for the process of rapid recovery to achieving sustainable development for the realization of President Weah’s pro poor agenda.
About the Author: Josephus Moses Gbala-hinnih Gray is an Assistant Professor at the University of Liberia Graduate Studies Program. He is a native born Liberian, hails from the Southeastern village of Kayken Chiefdom in Barclayville, Grand Kru County. He is an author, professor, journalist, diplomat and scholar with a wealth of rich credentials including a doctorate in International relations from Paris, France. He has authored two books, published Two Graduate Theses and a 600-page Doctoral Dissertation on the theme: “Geopolitics of African Oil and Energy: China and America New Strategic Interests in Africa”. He has written extensively and published over 50 articles on variety of contemporary issues. He can be contacted at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org/ +231(880330299)
By: Josephus Moses Gray, PhD
Assistant Professor of International Relations
Email: email@example.com/ Mobile: 0776824437