Saturday, February 10, 2007

ASEAN on China in Africa


During the more than two decades of reform and opening up in China, and particularly with its switch to a market economy, African affairs had from time to time been sidelined. The various unselfish and generous forms of assistance to Africa made available during the Mao era were no more; and, were after all not sustainable. China's traditional ideological appeal had given way to a disordered and haphazard trend towards democracy in African countries. This was coupled with their difficulties in perceiving the fast-evolving economic and ideological changes occurring in China. At times, Africa became no more than a battlefield between mainland China and Taiwan for diplomatic recognition. Even worse, when cheap Chinese manufactured goods flooded the world market, the negatively affected African countries had good reason to worry and complain.

This time round, changes in China's mode of assistance to Africa are expected, wherein the stress on mutual benefits and common development is more pronounced. The Chinese President will certainly reassure his African counterparts that China is not coming to Africa to exploit its natural and energy resources, but is seeking to offer a helping hand for the mutual benefit of the parties involved. He is expected to explain China's new strategy to transform its mode of foreign trade by upgrading to more value-added goods, leaving more room to breathe for African countries. Most importantly, his concept of a 'harmonious world' should appeal to war-torn and ethnic-conflict-ridden countries, against the backdrop of reported 'clashes between civilizations'. For poverty stricken sub-Saharan African countries, they look forward to learning from China's successful experience in the hope of breaking out of the cycle of poverty in which they have been entrapped...."

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