Xiplomacy: China-Africa reciprocal cooperation prospers thanks to close people-to-people bonds

Doctors from the 29th Chinese medical team to the Republic of the Congo provide physical exam for children at an adoption center in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo, May 30, 2023. [Xinhua]

"It takes a village to raise a child." The African proverb conveys the message that it takes many people to provide a sound environment for children to grow up.

To celebrate this year's International Children's Day that falls on Thursday, China and the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) launched the "Warm Children's Hearts, a China-Africa Joint Action" initiative to arouse public awareness and show their love and care for African children.

The children who received greetings, aid and medical assistance from China during the event said they were glad to know that so many Chinese people care about their lives.

FRIENDSHIP ROOTED IN PEOPLE

The event, initiated by Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the OAFLAD, was launched in dozens of African countries recently.

In the Republic of the Congo, gifts from the Chinese embassy in Brazzaville brought joy and happiness to children at an adoption center. Doctors from the 29th Chinese medical team to the country provided physical exams for the children.

In the eyes of Octavie Bopenda, head of the Bethanie Orphanage, the center symbolizes the friendship between her country and China. "On March 29, 2013, Professor Peng came to the center when President Xi and the first lady visited the country. Scenes from that day still appear vividly before us," Bopenda said.

In the past 10 years, the Chinese embassy and Chinese companies in the Republic of the Congo have visited the center many times. "The children are growing up with love and care from the two countries," she said.

Foreign Minister of the Republic of Congo Basile Ikouebe (3rd R) attends the completion ceremony of the Sino-Congolese friendship primary school in Chengduo County of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China's Qinghai Province, July 22, 2012. [Xinhua]

In China's western province of Qinghai, many children have a special affection for the Republic of the Congo. In April 2010, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai. As locals were struggling to rebuild their homes, President of the Republic of the Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso announced that his country would help rebuild a primary school in the quake-hit area. Two years later, the restoration of Wenle Central Boarding School was completed under the new name of the Sino-Congolese Friendship Primary School.

"China and Congo have been long-time friends," said Minister of Social Affairs and Humanitarian Action Irene Mboukou Kimbatsa. "The event is simply a proof of our solid friendship. Our relations are full of love, respect and humanism."

During his visit to the Republic of the Congo in 2013, Xi said the development of the China-Africa partnership is rooted in the people and is fostered through exchanges. His vision has been guiding cooperation between China and Africa.

PARTNERS FOR COMMON DEVELOPMENT

Judith Wanzila Peter, who is responsible for maintaining the signaling system of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, said she would never forget the time with her "Chinese teacher" in the past four years.

Judith recalled the early days of her career when her hands could not stop shaking because she was nervous at work. "While checking the equipment, our hands have to be as skilled as a surgeon to ensure the safety of the train."

After training and practice, Judith is fully capable of handling her job and will take over the maintenance work from her Chinese colleagues. "When they go back to China, I will miss them," she said.Since the railway was put into operation in 2017, more than 10 million trips have been made and more than 25 million tonnes of goods have been delivered, which has driven the economic and social development of the areas along the route in Kenya.

Algeria's first communication satellite Alcomsat-1, the Malawi Parliament Building, the Merowe Dam in Sudan ... and many other flagship projects jointly launched by China and their African counterparts have become landmarks in those African countries. Some projects are printed on the nations' banknotes, bearing witness to the China-Africa friendship.

Chinese companies genuinely support Africa by building infrastructure, including roads and bridges, said Alexis Gisaro Muvuni, minister of state for infrastructure and public works of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Chinese companies and investors have vigorously promoted bilateral infrastructure cooperation and made concrete contributions to local communities over the years, Muvuni said.

Thanks to cooperation mechanisms such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and the Belt and Road Initiative, Africa's infrastructure development has undergone tremendous changes. China has remained Africa's largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years. The two sides have together constructed and commissioned over 10,000 km of railway, nearly 100,000 km of highway, and an array of important infrastructure projects, including airports, docks, bridges and power plants.

China's modernization has the means to galvanize and effect modernization elsewhere in the world, especially among the developing nations, said David Monyae, director of the Center for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg.

As China has embarked on a new journey of building a modern socialist country through a Chinese path to modernization, developing countries in Africa and beyond ought to take advantage presented by China's localized type of modernization, Monyae said.

BROTHERS OF ONE MIND

Over the past six decades, China and Africa, with close people-to-people bonds, have enjoyed ever-deepening win-win cooperation. Their friendship has been tempered in struggle, tested by time, and is ready to embrace new development opportunities.

This photo taken on May 23, 2023 shows trains of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway in Nairobi, Kenya. [Xinhua]

In April 1955, the Bandung Conference was held in Indonesia, where Chinese and African leaders shook hands, marking the beginning of friendly exchanges between the two sides. Since then, China has supported Africa's just cause of fighting against imperialism and colonialism and for national liberation. African countries supported China in restoring its lawful seat in the United Nations.

China put forward the principles of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, and pursuing the greater good and shared interests in 2013 to guide its cooperation with Africa. China-Africa relations have entered a fast track toward a stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.

Since March 2013 after Xi was elected as Chinese president, the FOCAC summit has been held twice, with both sides striving to advance the 10 cooperation plans, eight major initiatives and nine programs.

Since the beginning of this year, three African presidents have visited China. While talking with President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo in Beijing, Xi said China firmly supports Africa in pursuing an independent development path and becoming an important pole in world politics, economy and civilization, adding that China is ready to provide new opportunities for African countries with its new development.

China will work with Africa to implement the outcomes of the Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC in Dakar, advance Belt and Road cooperation, support Africa in achieving sustainable development, and build a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, Xi said.

During his visit to Beijing last month, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said the evolution of international order is at a critical stage, and African countries still face hegemonism and unfair and unjust treatment.

The international community expects and believes that China will make greater contributions to human development and progress, and to international fairness and justice, Afwerki said.

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