African politicians, experts say Xi's visit promote friendship, boost cooperation of mutual benefit

by Xinhua writers Wang Haiqing, Xiong Maoling

BEIJING, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent visit to Africa is of great significance as it has injected new impetus for the development of African countries and promoted China-Africa cooperation of mutual benefit, said African politicians and scholars.

In his first foreign trip after being re-elected as Chinese president, Xi paid state visits to the United Arab Emirates, Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa and a friendly visit to Mauritius during a stopover. He also attended the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

During his visit, he discussed the development of bilateral ties with leaders of the four African countries, expounded on China's Africa policy on multilateral occasions, generated broader consensus on the friendship and unity between China and Africa and set in motion stronger driving force for China-Africa cooperation.

Herman Musahara, a professor at the School of Economics at University of Rwanda, highlighted the significance of Xi's visit, saying that it elevates China-Africa ties in all areas and brings about opportunities for win-win cooperation between the two sides.

Africa needs a reliable partner to help itself overcome the gap in infrastructure and industrialization and China is the perfect one, which can also use its own experiences to help Africa achieve economic development, said Musahara.

A report by the AfricaNews TV, based in the Republic of Congo, said that Xi's Africa tour forged a closer high-level link between the two sides, which will allow China and Africa to have even closer cooperation in regional and international affairs.

Macharia Munene, a professor of international relations at the United States International University-Kenya, said that Xi's visit has shown that China and Africa are having an increasing convergence of interests during their pursuit of common development.

On the political front, the two sides have stood together to tackle various global challenges; on the economic front, China, as the world's second largest economy, is strengthening economic and trade ties with African countries, the Kenyan professor said.

During his visit, Xi and his African hosts have seen the signing of some 40 cooperation documents, including major projects that would benefit the peoples on both sides.

Kader Diop, a professor at the journalism school of Dakar University, said China's aid to Africa has not been limited to one particular country, but eyes the overall development of Africa.

During Xi's visit, Senegal became the first West African country to have signed a Belt and Road cooperation document with China, and this, according to Diop, will greatly promote the implementation of the Plan for an Emerging Senegal (PES).

The PES is a development model established by the Senegalese government to guide the country's economic and social policy over the mid-and long-term.

Gerishon Ikiara, an international economics lecturer at the University of Nairobi, said that African countries have made remarkable achievements on economic development thanks to their deepened cooperation with China. These stories of success manifested the positive results of the joint efforts on Belt and Road cooperation, he said.

"China is a sincere partner for most of African countries," said Ismael Buchanan, Dean of the School of Economics and Governance at the University of Rwanda, who recognized China's long-time support of Rwanda and Africa.

China will play an important role in protecting the overall interest of developing countries, pushing forward the social and economic development of Africa and safeguarding the security and stability of sub-Saharan Africa, Buchanan said.

"President Xi's visit has immensely benefited African countries," said Aly Diouf, an expert on China-Africa relations with Senegalese newspaper Le Soleil (The Sun in English).

This year is an important year for the development of China-Africa relationship. Not long after Xi's Africa tour, the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will take place in September. African communities expect the summit to roll out new measures and create new opportunities for further strengthening of all-round China-Africa cooperation.

Raphael Tuju, secretary general of Kenya's ruling Jubilee Party, said he hopes China would shift some of the labor-intensive industries to African countries, and propel the industrialization of the continent.

"It is crucial for the country to engage with China and grow our industrial sector that is key to prosperity and job creation for unemployed youth," Tuju told Xinhua.

Rwandan scholar Ladislas Ngendahimana said he believes the upcoming summit provides a perfect platform for Africa and China to enhance cooperation.

Xi's visit has brought more opportunities for Chinese investment seeking to enter Africa, and could help create jobs in the continent and promote its economic transition, Ngendahimana said.

"FOCAC is the main platform for China's engagement with Africa," said Cobus van Staden, researcher at South African Institute of International Affairs.

"I expect the Belt and Road Initiative to play a big role in this year's FOCAC summit," said Staden.

Noting that Xi's Africa visit gave an idea of what is to come in the next few months, Charles Onunaiju, director of the Center for China Studies in Nigeria's capital Abuja, said the diplomatic tour proved that China attaches great importance to China-Africa cooperation.

"It gives Africa an international partner that it has never witnessed in her long history," he said. (Xinhua reporters Zhu Shaobin, Wang Xiaopeng in Nairobi, Lyv Tianran in Kigali, Jingjing in Johannesburg, Wen Hao in Port Louis, Zhang Baoping in Abuja and Xing Jianqiao in Dakar also contributed to the report.)