Recently, industrial capacity cooperation has become a catchword in China-Africa cooperation.
Many African countries are eager to embrace the historic opportunity brought about by China’s economic transformation and upgrading, and become the first places to host Chinese investors, so as to add fuel to their own industrialisation strategies.
There are mutual needs and complementarity between China and Africa to carry out industrial capacity cooperation and a rare historic opportunity has come for the two sides, which can help China and Africa to achieve win-win cooperation for common development, make the world more balanced, stable and prosperous, and benefit the people of China, Africa and the world.
Industrial capacity cooperation between China and Africa is an urgent need for Africa to realise independent and sustainable development. Since the middle of the last century, African countries have achieved national independence one after another and sought to promote economic development through international cooperation.
However, some countries outside the region are only willing give Africa “fish” instead of “teaching Africa how to fish”. Many African countries still suffer from hunger and under-development.
It is impossible to realise real political independence without economic independence. By giving others fish, one might help to address the immediate needs of others. Only after “learning how to fish” can Africa set up its own industrial system, move out of the disadvantage of exporting raw materials at a low price and importing expensive finished products, thus realising independent and sustainable development and controlling their own destiny.
Industrial capacity cooperation is to “let African countries know how to fish”, helping Africa to get rid of the two persistent bottleneck constraints hindering its development and industrialisation, i.e., insufficiency in infrastructure and talent.
The Chinese government encourages Chinese businesses to invest in Africa, transfer their technologies, bring more job opportunities, foreign exchange, tax revenue and added value of primary products to the local people, thus translating Africa’s abundant natural and human resources into real development results.
Industrial capacity cooperation between China and Africa is the natural trend of China’s economic transformation and upgrading. After more than 30 years of reform and opening up, China has developed a large number of leading industries, which provide advanced equipment and products to the world, and numerous internationally competitive businesses have grown in China.
At the same time, due to increase of labour cost, a large number of labour-intensive businesses in China need to move overseas for new development. China can and needs to bring its industrial capacity overseas and help other countries to develop, while achieving China’s own development.
This is also in line with the rule of world economic development. Japan and the four Asian tigers all realised economic takeoff after taking over industrial capacity from overseas, and later became source countries to export industrial capacity to overseas markets.
Africa has a population of close to 1.1 billion, which might reach 1.4 billion by 2025. The huge demographic dividend will make it one of the most ideal locations for investments from other parts of the world.
In order to realise industrialisation, Africa needs advantageous industrial capacity from countries such as China. The Chinese government is sincere in helping Africa to improve both “software” and “hardware” of investment, assisting them to “build a nest to attract the phoenix”, and creating better environment for industrial capacity transfer.
Industrial capacity cooperation between China and Africa is the objective need to safeguard world peace and prosperity.
African refugees are flooding to Europe. Poverty and underdevelopment have always been the root causes of instability and unrest in Africa, which also provide the breeding ground for terrorism. Stability and development in Africa bear on sustained peace and prosperity of the world.
By investing in Africa and developing industrial capacity cooperation, especially helping African countries to develop labour-intensive industries, Chinese businesses will create a large number of job opportunities for local people, improve their living conditions, and enable more African youth to work in factories, workshops, farms and office buildings.
Chinese leaders attach high importance to developing a new type of partnership with Africa, featuring win-win cooperation. The essence of the policy of the new Chinese leadership is that China is willing to integrate its own development with independent and sustainable development of African countries, so as to realise common development and make the world more balanced, harmonious and prosperous.
Recently, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi summarised the four principles China adheres to in international industrial capacity cooperation, which are “the right approach to righteousness and benefit, win-win cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, and market-based operation”.
Ethiopia does not have rich oil and other energy resources, but China is committed to developing mutually beneficial cooperation with Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, the first city ring road, the first express way, the first city light rail, the first electrified railway, and the first wind-power generation project are all financed by China, which have created good conditions for Ethiopia to attract foreign investment and the rapid growth of local industries.
China is Angola’s biggest crude oil exporting destination. Over the past 10 years and more, through the model of a package cooperation, China has helped Angola to build 39 hospitals, 78 schools, 14 power transformation stations, 20 water processing factories, 7,500 hectares of agricultural irrigation projects, upgrade 223 community networks, construct 1,343 kilometers of railway, 892 kilometers of roads, 736 kilometers of power transmission and transformation lines, thus making an important contribution to Angola’s national reconstruction and economic development.
The oil and mineral resources of African countries, like Nigeria and Chad are monopolised by western countries. It’s only natural to wonder whether western countries are also sincere in helping African countries to develop, as China does for Angola and Ethiopia.
* Lin Songtian is the Secretary-General of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Director-General of the African Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former Chinese Ambassador to Liberia and to Malawi