Libmonster ID: IN-1248
Author(s) of the publication: A. R. BOGUSLAVSKY

China-Africa Forum Keywords:economic cooperation

July 19-20, 2012 Beijing was "dressed up" in unusually bright colors. Banners in Chinese, English and French about the friendship of the peoples of China and Africa were hung in the city center, and colorful flags of 50 countries of the continent that have diplomatic relations with China (except Burkina Faso, Gambia, Western Sahara and Swaziland) were hung in front of the People's Assembly House in Tiananmen Square. The Chinese capital hosted the 5th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). This is an extraordinary event in international politics.

These meetings have long gone beyond the boundaries of "demonstrating Sino-African friendship." Naturally, it also has a propaganda component, but the current content of China's relations with Africa shows that it is much more important for both sides to use such forums for practical discussion of substantive issues. They are driven to do so both by their shared political interests and by their growing trade and economic interdependence.

On the one hand, East Leviathan does not have a comparable alternative to Africa in terms of obtaining energy resources.1 On the other hand, 18% of African exports (only 10% in 2008) are accounted for by Chinese demand.2 Moreover, despite the continuing uneasy situation on world markets, the decline in growth rates of both China and most African countries, the latest data (for 2011) on the level of bilateral trade, on the contrary, exceeded all the most optimistic forecasts - for the year it grew from $120 billion. up to $166 billion (!)3. The past year has brought new records. In the first five months of 2012 alone, China's trade with the African continent grew by 20% compared to the same period of the previous year, reaching $80 billion.4

CHINA-AFRICA FORUMS

Every three years (since 2000), representatives of African and Chinese countries meet alternately in one of the cities of the African continent (2003 - Addis Ababa, 2009-Sharm el-Sheikh) or in Beijing (2000, 2006, 2012) to take stock and discuss prospects for cooperation. in all spheres - from politics and economics to science and mass media. In terms of the number of top officials from African countries present, these events are second only to the meetings of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) and the opening of the sessions of the UN General Assembly.

This time, the forum was held somewhat earlier than usual (all previous meetings were held in November)*, almost coinciding with the conclusion of the busy AU summit**, which led to the absence of a number of African politicians. Nevertheless, its results were very fruitful. The final documents-the Beijing Declaration 5 and the Beijing Action Plan for 2013-2015 6-set a goal: to build a "new type of China-Africa strategic partnership". However, the Chinese have long been talking about such a partnership as a fait accompli.

What is "new" in relations between China and Africa is probably the large-scale participation of Chinese companies in the construction of African infrastructure. This activity is financed by the Chinese through favorable soft loans for Africans from specialized state-owned banks in China, the largest of which are Eximbank and China Development Bank (CDB).

Such a "coupling" of Chinese state capital and business, lobbying at the state level for the activities of Chinese companies abroad using such platforms as the forum and other meetings held in a multilateral format, as well as through bilateral channels with the involvement of its foreign diplomatic missions, allowed China to firmly gain a foothold both in the African market and in many industries economies of the continent.

In the political sphere, Beijing has consistently advocated greater participation of African States in world affairs,


* Commentators attribute this to a "milestone change" in the Chinese leadership in November 2012. See: Grimm S., McDonald D. How continent is prepared for China-Africa meeting? - http://www.business-day.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id-176594 (19.07.2012)

** There were disagreements about the candidate for the post of head of the AU Commission, who was ultimately chosen by the South African N. Dlamini-Zuma.

page 12

"Restoring justice" for Africa through granting its countries more seats in the UN Security Council (without the right of veto) and other international agencies, actively promotes a multi-format bilateral dialogue.

The imbalance between the "North" and "South", according to the Chinese authorities, can be corrected by reforming the existing global financial system, which does not reflect the interests of developing countries, and developing South-South cooperation, somewhat exaggerating its relations with Africa. These provisions have long been in line with the global development agenda of African States, find an interested response and are enshrined in the "Beijing Declaration" of the last forum.

The leaders of African countries and their populations are generally positive about China's activities on the continent. However, China-Africa relations are not entirely rosy. The most developed African states located in the north of the continent and South Africa-in the south, consider China as not only a partner, but also a serious competitor. South Africa, as China's largest economic partner on the continent, is nevertheless determined to secure sub-Saharan African export markets and is wary of increasing Chinese penetration.

In addition, this largest economy in Africa is one of the few countries on the continent that is ready to compete with China in its own domestic market, which is not yet fully understood by Beijing. In this regard, in a friendly speech by the President of South Africa, J. R. R. Tolkien, Mr Zuma also spoke at the forum in what can be seen as a warning to the Chinese authorities: the unbalanced "trade model" in relations between Africa and China "cannot be maintained for a long time".7. Another issue is that, with few exceptions, African countries currently have nothing to offer China other than their natural wealth.

The way out of this situation is seen both in the measures proposed by Beijing to stimulate African exports, and in the transfer of modern technologies and investment in the manufacturing sector, which, according to experts, has not been done enough so far8. In the socio-economic sphere, there is talk of opening up opportunities if part of Chinese production is moved to Africa, which can create additional jobs for the local population, increase tax revenues, and at the same time allow China to overcome the problem of labor shortages.9

However, all of these are plans that have an uncertain future ahead of them. Now, in many African countries, to one degree or another, there is a problem of a massive influx of Chinese workers who work in Chinese companies implementing various infrastructure projects financed by Beijing itself. According to some Africans, the arrival of the Chinese did not reduce, but, on the contrary, aggravated the problem of employment of the local population. In addition, language, cultural and religious barriers, differences in work and recreation, social benefits and guarantees, in short, the perception of the world in general, often make themselves felt, which often leads to clashes that can be observed, for example, in mining villages in Zambia.

The problem of anti-Chinese propaganda in Western political circles and the media, which is also directed against the African countries that closely cooperate with Beijing, remains very serious. US Secretary of State X repeatedly made explicit hints about China's de-unfair policy towards Africa, which were replicated in the Western media. Clinton during her African tours (in July 2011 and August 2012).

Thus, the forum in Beijing was faced with a difficult task-to propose an updated strategy for the development of relations between China and Africa, which would allow finding new forms of interaction, as well as expanding both the existing vectors of cooperation in the field of politics, trade, investment, and those that have so far been either underestimated or not sufficiently deepened. development (issues of technology transfer and innovation, humanitarian sphere, mass media).

FIVE PRIORITIES

Hu Jintao, then President of the People's Republic of China, in his speech at the opening of the forum in Beijing, put forward a 5 - point program-priorities for the development of Sino-African relations for the next three years.

First, expand cooperation in investment and the financial sector to ensure sustainable development in Africa.

Second, increase assistance to Africa in the areas of training, technology transfer and innovation so that Africans can benefit from "the fruits of [world - AB] development".

Third, to promote integration processes on the African continent, which should open up additional opportunities for its development.

Fourthly, to carry out cooperation in the scientific and educational spheres, in the media, and at the level of people-to-people contacts.

Fifthly, promote peace and stability in Africa by creating a "safe environment" for its development.10

This program is presented in a more detailed form in the final document of the forum-the "Beijing Action Plan".

The "Plan" is divided into several blocks: politics and international cooperation, trade and economic relations, cooperation in the field of African development, cultural and humanitarian sphere. It is noteworthy that each of them contains not only a declarative component (i.e., well-known formulations).-

page 13

information about friendship, cooperation, interaction, etc.), but also provides a specific "breakdown" of what needs to be done.

So, in the political sphere, the emphasis is supposed to be on expanding bilateral cooperation mechanisms (bilateral commissions, political consultations, planning of joint events), as well as multilateral ones, with an emphasis on the UN, the African Union and other African regional organizations. China-Africa consultations on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in 2012-2013, consultations of the National People's Congress (NPC) with the national legislative bodies of African states and the Pan - African Parliament were agreed, and an agreement was reached to open an AU representative office in Beijing.

In the field of security, the launch of the "China-Africa Joint Partnership for Peace and Security Initiative" was announced, which involves China's logistical and financial assistance to the African Union's peacekeeping operations. Beijing is ready to continue to provide comprehensive assistance to UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, participate in conflict prevention and resolution activities, and restore States affected by them. In this regard, experts put forward a well-founded assumption that after the events in Libya, where the PRC lost more than $4 billion. In South Sudan, where 29 Chinese miners were abducted and strategic oil supplies to the Chinese economy were put at risk, China will try to play an increasingly important role in resolving crises on the continent to protect its interests.11

After the conflict in Ivory Coast in 2011, when President Ouattara came to power on the "bayonets" of French "peacekeepers", and the upheavals of the "Arab Spring" in North Africa (especially the NATO intervention in Libya), the thesis that the PRC will help China gained new significance African States should resist interference by other countries in the internal affairs of Africa. China, along with Russia, defends the sovereign right of states and their peoples to independently solve their internal political problems.

The agreements reached in the trade and economic sphere offer good opportunities for the development of African states. The main problem here, as you know, remains a significant lag of African exports (finished products) from Chinese imports. To solve this problem, it is planned, firstly, to continue the practice of expanding the list of export goods (up to 97% of all locally produced products from the least developed countries of Africa, which are exempt from import duties by Beijing), and, secondly, to provide material and technical support to African enterprises manufacturing goods for export to China.

Such measures, which, in fact, are not original and have long been used by Americans on the basis of the Economic Growth and Trade Opportunities in Africa Act (AGOA), will allow local small and medium-sized businesses, now mainly dependent on demand in the West (especially for agricultural and light industry products), to find alternative solutions. sales markets in the East.

The Beijing Plan also addresses the issue of attracting Chinese investment in African economies. For this purpose, the China-Africa Development Fund (established in 2007), of which China Development Bank is a shareholder, plans to provide $2 billion. (with a gradual increase in this amount to $5 billion by 2015) 12 to provide assistance to Chinese companies operating in Africa, to expand the activities of special economic zones created by the PRC in six countries of the continent. It is also worth noting that after repeated negative incidents for Beijing's reputation, the Chinese authorities promised to take control of the issue of resolving labor conflicts that arise between Chinese management and African workers, and oblige Chinese firms to guarantee them a certain social package.

As part of monetary, financial and banking cooperation, Beijing doubled the credit line opened to African countries and brought it to $20 billion. (2012)13. In response, African representatives expressed their willingness to consider including China's national currency in their national reserve systems, using it for mutual settlements, and agreeing to Chinese investments in yuan. This could be an important step towards a more balanced global financial system, less dependent on the US currency, which is in the interests of developing countries on the continent. In the same context, the African side's support for the BRICS group's plan to create its own development bank, independent of the IMF and the World Bank, should also be considered in the final document of the forum.

HUMANITARIAN AND OTHER AREAS OF COOPERATION

Wide coverage was also given to those issues that still remained either "in the shadows", or the relevance of which has matured in recent years. We are talking about cultural and humanitarian spheres, relations in the field of mass media.

At present, even Western experts agree that China has made some progress on such items on the agenda of relations with the continent as contacts with civil society and NGOs, language learning, and scientific and educational exchanges.14 To this, you can add and subgo-

page 14

training of African personnel. The Chinese government's "African talent" support program provides training for 30,000 African specialists and provides 18,000 scholarships until 2015. 15

In accordance with the concept of cultural cooperation set out in the Beijing Action Plan, it is planned to conclude partnership agreements between 100 Chinese and 100 African cultural institutions and cultural centers; in the scientific field, implement 100 academic programs covering the main research issues of our time, as well as involve 10 scientific institutes from each of the parties. which will give an additional impetus to the implementation of contacts in the scientific community and constantly provide expert support for Sino-African relations.16

Currently, such structures look somewhat sketchy, but the concrete experience of cooperation will probably allow us to create other, perhaps more viable forms of interaction that should overcome some of the obsession of cooperation in the trade, economic and political spheres, while contributing to their promotion.

Special emphasis will be placed on implementing various social and" micro-social " programs in Africa, providing assistance to youth, women's and volunteer organizations, and conducting exchanges and meetings between them.

The Beijing Forum demonstrated China's willingness to adjust its views on sustainable development assistance, a topic that has not yet received serious attention in the agenda of China's relations with the African continent. It was stated that China will contribute materially and technically to reducing poverty in Africa, improving education and access to health services, and protecting the environment. China's humanitarian assistance to Africa, which still lags far behind the major donor countries in absolute terms, can also be expected to become more regular.

The main goal of cooperation in the information sphere, which is used by influential Western media as a field for intensive anti-Chinese propaganda, is to create and disseminate "objective and fair" information about China's relations with Africa. The African broadcast from Nairobi by CCTV, a Chinese telecommunications company, launched in 2011, is aimed precisely at achieving this principle. African media are increasingly quoting reports from the Chinese news agency Xinhua (compared to Western news agencies), and English-language Chinese television programs are broadcast to many African countries, watched by government officials, in universities, and in the waiting rooms of African international airports.

The latest China-Africa forum has shown that Beijing's African policy is becoming more inclusive and diverse on the one hand, and on the other hand, it is able to show flexibility and take into account the challenges of the time. These qualities were noted by almost the entire expert community.17

* * *

The "new type" of Sino-African partnership that Chinese President Hu Jintao spoke about at the 2012 forum involves, along with maintaining the fundamental foundations of political, trade and economic relations, involving more and more broad sections of society, or, figuratively speaking, turning Sino-African cooperation face-to-face. It seems that this approach will allow us to tap into the still untapped potential of cooperation.

Time will tell whether China and Africa will achieve the goals set at the Beijing summit.

The strategic course of expanding China's presence in Africa will undoubtedly be continued by the "fifth generation" of Chinese politicians who came to power in November 2012.


Brown K., Shinn D. 1 China and Africa: Century of engagement. Chatham House, 29 June 2012. P. 6.

2 China's cooperative measures with Africa substantial, effective -http://www.focac.org/eng/zxxx/t954284.htm (23.7.2012)

3 China-Africa Trade Booms - http://www.joc.com/economy-watch/world-economy-news/china-africa-trade-booms 20120718.html (18.7.2012)

4 Ibidem.

5 Beijing Declaration of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation - http://www.focac.org/eng/zxxx/ t954245.htm

6 The Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Beijing Action Plan (2013 - 2015) - http://www.focac.org/eng/zxxx/t954620.htm

7 Zuma warns on Africa's ties to China - http://www.ft.com/ cms/s/0/33686fc4-d171-11e1-bbbc-00144feabdc0.html#axzz21jpoPuZc (19.7.2012)

8 Africa Analysis: Directing technology transfer from China -http://www.scidev.net/en/science-and-innovation-policy/technology-transfer/opinions/africa- analysis-directing-technology-transfer-from-china.html (2.8.2012)

9 China is called to Africa - http://www.vedomosti.ru/finance/news/1357832/novyj_motor (6.9.2011)

10 Open up new prospects for a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership - http://www.focac.org/eng/zxxx/t953172.htm (19.7.2012)

11 China's bond of commitment - http://www.focac.org/eng/zxxx/t955446.htm (25.7.2012)

Deutsch T. 12 China "conquers" Africa - http://russiancouncil. en/inner/?id_4-547 (26.6.2012)

13 The Fifth Ministerial Conference...

Grimm S., McDonald D. 14 How continent is prepared for China-Africa meeting? - http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Contcnt.aspx?id=176594 (19.7.2012)

15 The Fifth Ministerial Conference...

16 Ibidem.

17 The international community has made positive comments on China-Africa Cooperation Forum results - http://www.finance-ol.com/2012/07/the-international-community-has-made-positi ve-comments-on-china-africa-cooperation-forum-results/(22.7.2012)


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