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China-Africa Cooperation in Full Swing

China Today by HE WENPING, January 23, 2017
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Dynamic People-to-people Exchanges

People-to-people and non-governmental exchanges are effective approaches to consolidating the public and social basis of Sino-African relations, and to guaranteeing their long-term and sustainable development. Telling the Chinese story and intensifying media intercommunication is vital to China-Africa people-to-people and non-governmental exchanges. Since 2014 China has through the China Africa Press Center project invited 1,000 African media workers to the country each year to take part in a 10-month training course. This gives these reporters the opportunity to understand China, improve their news gathering and editing skills, and record personal observations and reflections. In March 2016, 22 African reporters who had taken part in the project attended China’s annual National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. They were regarded by French media as the journalists the Chinese government most welcomed.

Moreover, since being founded in 2011 the China-Africa Think Tank Forum (CATTF), a major Sino-African non-governmental exchange platform, has been a main vehicle for scholars of the two sides to publicize actual instances of Sino-African cooperation. The fifth CATTF took place in Yiwu of Zhejiang Province in April 2016 and held deep discussions on Sino-African production capacity development and African industrialization. In August 2016, the China-Africa Media & Think-Tanks Symposium was held in the port city of Mombasa, Kenya. More than 150 think tank and media representatives from 20 countries, including China, Kenya, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Nigeria, Morocco, and Egypt, took part, and visited the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, then under construction.

Constantly enhanced Sino-African political and economic cooperation and people-and-people exchanges have had encouraging impact on fundamental public opinion. China’s influence in African countries is rapidly growing, and the overall response to it is positive. According to the well-known Afrobarometer poll held in October 2016, of the 54,000 people interviewed from 36 African countries, the majority thought that China had a positive impact on their country. More than two thirds of interviewees also thought that economic activities, especially investment, were a key element of building and improving China’s image among African citizens. Assistance and support from China for the continent’s development also won the commendation of more than 80 percent of local residents surveyed from Nigeria, Liberia, and Cameroon, and 91 percent from Mali. Expansion of non-governmental exchanges is indeed a gradual oiling process that brings true transformation.

HE WENPING is a research fellow with the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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