By Theodora Amedetor.
The African Union Commission says China’s experience and best practices can help the AU achieve its aspirations of Agenda 2063. It is therefore interested in enhancing collaborative research with institutions in China for mutual benefit. China has also reiterated its commitment to work together with Africa, to create new growth poles, for people-to-people exchanges, including think tank cooperation. These were sentiments expressed when China and the African Union jointly inaugurated the China-Africa Institute in Beijing.
The establishment of the Institute was listed under the the people-to-people exchange of the eight major initiatives, the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, launched at the 2018 FACAC Summit.
Under the auspices of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, CASS, the China-Africa institute will provide a platform for academic exchanges between China and Africa, to promote people-to-people communications, and collaborative research programmes in various fields, needed to boost Sino-Africa ties.
In a congratulatory letter, read on his behalf, at the inaugural ceremony, President Xi Jinping reiterated the importance Beijing attaches to the friendship between China and Africa. He urged the institute to explore academic resources, from both sides, enhance mutual understanding and provide ideas for the growth of China-Africa cooperation.
A former President of Mozambique, Mr. Joaquim Chissano noted that China’s rapid social and economic developments are based on massive investment in infrastructure development and Africa seeks to do same. He described “what China is doing in Africa as what the continent asks for”, to be able to develop as well.
Mr Chisano however cautioned that there is the need to take a closer look at the modalities in which such developments are taking place, so as to avoid the creations of winners and losers, or a perception of the sort.
A member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, Mr. Yang Jiechi, said the China-Africa Institute should seize the historical opportunity to build a higher level of the Sino-Africa comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, and make positive contributions to building a closer China-Africa community of a shared future.
With a throwback on aspirations of the AU’s agenda 2063, the AU Commissioner for Human Resources, Science & Technology, Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor, reiterated the values the AU places on people-to-people engagement with other civilisations. She sees the China-Africa Institute’s strategic partnership as forming an important part of the AU framework for achieving its vision. Prof. Agbor said, this is because “we recognize that we can learn from each another and strengthen mutually beneficial collaboration.’’
Representatives from 49 African countries and institutions attended the inauguration. It is hoped African Think Tanks will deepen research on China’s development and learn from this experience, while enabling the Chinese to also better understand Africa.