The 5th Meeting of the China-Africa Think-tank Forum Kicks off: the Publication of the Recent Outcomes of the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University

Yiwu, April 15 (People's Daily Online) The 5th Meeting of the China-Africa Think-tank Forum was held here today. Sheng Qiuping, CPC Yiwu Municipal Committee Secretary, Chen Dexi, CPC Committee Secretary of Zhejiang Normal University (ZNU), Qian Hongshan, Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Arkebe Oqubay Metiku, Economic Adviser to Ethiopia's Prime Minister, and Charles Kayonga, Rwandan Ambassador to China, attended the opening ceremony and delivered speeches. Mr. Jiang Guojun, President of Zhejiang Normal University chaired the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony was also attended by over 300 people, including Liang Liming, Deputy Governor of Zhejiang Province, Ai Ping, Vice President of the Chinese Association for International Understanding, Lin Songtian, Director General of the Department of African Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhong Jianhua, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on African Affairs, Zhong Weiyun, Director General of the Department of African Affairs of the International Department of the Central Committee of CPC, Chen Yinghui, Deputy Director General of the Department of International Cooperation and Exchange of the Ministry of Education, Zhen Xinpu, CPC Leadership Group Secretary and Vice Chairman of Zhejiang Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences Circles, Xu Yingjiu,, Vice Director of China Development Bank Research Institute, Yu Xinhua, Vice Director of the Department of Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs of Zhejiang Provincial People’s Government, Li Xuhang, Director of the General Office of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation of the Department of African Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Manasse Nshuti, FPR Senior Consultant for President of Rwanda and President of University of Kigali, Genet Teshome Jirru, Director General of the Department of Asian and Oceanian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Yohannea Fanta Wolde Giorgis, Consul General of the Ethiopian Consulate General in Shanghai, Esrom Thabo Thage, South Africa's Consul General in Shanghai, Takyiwaa Manuh, Director General of the Department of Social Development Policies of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Joel Netshitenzhe, Executive Director of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Studies and Theorist of African National Congress of South Africa, and other Chinese and international guests.

Mr. Sheng Qiuping extended his warm welcome and sincere gratitude to participating leaders, guests and friends from all walks of life on behalf of the CPC Yiwu Municipal Committee, the Yiwu People’s Government and two million Yiwu people. He said that, President Xi Jinping praised Yiwu’ progress of China-Africa trade when attending the High-level Dialogue of China-Africa Leaders and Business Representatives in Johannesburg on December 4, 2015. President Xi Jinping said that, “There is a small city called Yiwu, known as the Capital of the World’s Small Commodities. Thousands of African businessmen reside there, engaging in China-African trade”. President Xi Jinping promoted Yiwu as a typical example of China-Africa trade to other countries in the world. This demonstrated the important role that Yiwu plays as a window in China-Africa exchanges and to the outside world.

Mr. Sheng Qiuping said that, nearly 0.5 million foreign businessmen come to Yiwu to purchase commodities every year, of whom 80,000 come from Africa. More than 13,000 businessmen from over 100 countries and regions reside at Yiwu for purchasing. Yiwu exports its commodities to over 210 countries and regions in the world. It is one of the international inland port cities designated by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. In recent years, the Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe cargo line, which has the world’s longest mileage, has been opened in response to the Belt and Road Initiative of China. Yiwu, with also an international mail exchange office and station, a bonded logistics center, an aviation port, a temporary railway port and other platforms, is opening itself wider to the outside world.

Mr. Sheng Qiuping expressed that Africa is an important partner of Yiwu in small commodity trade. Yiwu had been actively leveraging the market and internationalization advantages to continuously deepen exchanges and cooperation with Africa in economy & trade, humanity and other fields and promote win-win development. We have set up the African Product Exhibition and Sales Center in Yiwu's International Trade City, where over 5,000 specialty commodities are introduced from 29 countries and regions in Africa. In 2015, exports from Yiwu to Africa amounted to RMB 49.21 billion, constituting an increase of 50.9% and imports from Africa to Yiwu amounted to RMB 610 million, representing an increase of 65.3%, which demonstrated the strong development momentum and potentials. We have taken effective measures to optimize foreign business management services, creating favorable conditions for African businessmen to work, study and live in Yiwu. With increasingly improved China-Africa trade relationships, more and more Africans came to Yiwu for business and study. Yiwu became their second hometown. In the future, Yiwu will designate African specialty streets, hold China-Africa investment trade expositions, and establish a China-Africa university, in an effort to build an all-round China-Africa exchange and cooperation base.

Sheng Qiuping said that the 5th Meeting of the China-Africa Think-tank Forum served as a high-end platform for Yiwu to further strengthen the exchanges and cooperation with Africa. Therefore, we will seize this opportunity and use think-tank communication links to further enhance the cooperation with cities in Africa in trade, industry, humanity and other fields. In the meantime, we hope that more and more African government officials, entrepreneurs and people from all walks of life will come to Yiwu to deepen cooperation and promote economic win-win, cultural communication and friendly people-to-people exchanges.

Mr. Chen Dexi said that Zhejiang Normal University had been grasping the favorable situation of increasingly deepened China-Africa relationship, actively serving national diplomatic strategies and committing itself to China-Africa exchanges and cooperation. Through these efforts, a work pattern has been formed, featuring benign interactions and holistic advancement in four major fields, i.e. African academic research, international promotion of the Chinese language, Africa-related personnel cultivation and intercollegiate exchanges with Africa. Indeed, Zhejiang Normal University ranks No. 1 in many aspects in the African research field among China’s domestic universities. Zhejiang Normal University is among the first batch of organizations for implementing the “China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Program” and the “China-Africa Think-tank 10+10 Partner Program” launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The first comprehensive Africa research institute and the China-Africa international business school were established in the ZNU. The university has won the bid for the first key project of the National Social Science Foundation in the China-Africa relationship research field and the key difficulty tackling humanities & social sciences project of the Ministry of Education. It has set up the first cross-disciplinary “African education and social development” doctorate station. It also has the only African museum and translation house among Chinese universities. Its regional and by-country research base and African Confucius institute workshop center have been approved by the Ministry of Education. The ZNU has established three Confucius institutes in partnership with African universities, organized over 90 sessions of African education management workshops, and built cooperation relationships with 65 institutions of higher education in 28 African countries. The university has gradually become an important African research center, African affairs consultancy think-tank, Africa-related personnel cultivation base, as well as an important force for promoting nongovernmental diplomacy with Africa.

Chen Dexi noted that in 2011, the China-Africa Think-tank Forum was established with the strong support of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Commerce, China Development Bank and other departments, the guidance of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee and the Zhejiang People’s Government, and the active participation of people from all walks of life in China and Africa. In the past 5 years, the Forum has been included in the China-Africa Cooperation Forum framework. Four meetings have been successfully held in China and Africa, and a series of influential academic achievements have been made. China’s domestic and overseas mainstream media praise it as “an important platform for international communities to understand China-Africa relationships and the structure and nature of China’s strategies for Africa”. Of particular note, the CPC Yiwu Municipal Committee and the Yiwu People’s Government have given strong support and assistance for preparing for the 5th meeting of the Forum. This laid a solid foundation for China and Africa to deepen cooperation in promoting China-Africa trade development and cultivating internationalized personnel.

Lastly, Mr. Chen Dexi said that, themed as “China-Africa capacity cooperation and African industrialization”, the Forum had attracted more than 300 think-tank leaders, renowned scholars, governmental officials and university presidents, who gathered in Yiwu for discussing major topics of great historical and practical significance. “All of you are China-Africa think-tank leaders. Some are also old friends of the think-tank forum and Zhejiang Normal University. We are confident that, through candid dialogues and friendly exchanges between new and old friends, we will definitely further boost friendship, reach a consensus and make even greater contributions to deepening nongovernmental friendship and promoting bilateral pragmatic cooperation.”

After the opening ceremony, a press conference was held about recent outcomes of the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University. These outcomes include China-Africa Cooperative Relations in the New Era (the key philosophy and social science research project of of the Ministry of Education), Africa Development Report (the philosophy and social science development report of the Ministry of Education) and Africa Research Book of Zhejiang Normal University (the project subsidized by the National Publication Foundation). The press conference was chaired by Liu Hongwu, Director of the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University and Specially-appointed Professor of the Chang Jiang Scholars Program of the Ministry of Education. He is also the chief expert, editor-in-chief and managing editor of these outcome documents.

The meeting, hosted by Zhejiang Normal University and the Yiwu Municipal People’s Government, is held under the guidance of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, supported by China Development Bank and the Zhejiang Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences Circles, and co-organized by the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the China Institute of International Studies, the Shanghai Institute for International Studies and the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations. The secretariat of the meeting, which lasts for three days, is composed of the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University and the China-Africa International Business School.

The meeting has three major topics. The first topic is about China-Africa industry docking and capacity cooperation, opportunities/challenges arising from accelerated African industrialization and corresponding countermeasures and suggestions. The second topic is how to promote China-Africa industry docking and capacity cooperation in an orderly manner and accelerate African industrialization, including how to prevent vicious competition between enterprises, accommodate the interests of African countries and protect the environment. The third topic is how to promote China-Africa capacity cooperation, accelerate industrialization and solve financing problems without imposing debt burdens on African countries. The China-Africa Economic and Trade Sub-forum has also been established at the meeting.

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