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Africa: Jiangsu - Exemplary for Solidarity and Friendly Cooperation of Sino-Africa
2016/06/16

OPINION

By Belayneh Bahiru Uma

Jiangsu province in China is located in the middle of Chinese east coast and the Yangtze River Delta, which covers a land area of 102,600 square kilometers.

According to Jiangsu provincial commission of health and family planning annual magazine, at the end of 2014, it had been home to 79.60 million permanent residents, making it the province with the highest population density among all the provinces and autonomous regions in China.

Jiangsu is one of the provinces with relatively well developed economy in China. The province is very rich in Chinese pillar industries, which include industries that produce machines, electronic materials, chemicals and automobile. In the past 5 years, the total GDP of Jiangsu has reached 1.1 trillion USD in 2015, registering an average annual growth rate of 9.6%. Per capita GDP of the province was more than USD 14000. General public budgetary revenue hit RMB 802.86 billion with an average annual growth rate of 14.5%. People's living standards were ameliorated continuously for past years in Jiangsu. In 2015, per capita disposable income of urban and rural residents had hit RMB 37,173 and 16,257, up by 66.9% and 79.4% respectively.

The administrative system in the province falls into four levels; namely the government at provincial levels( Regional State in Ethiopia context), Municipal levels(Zonal Levels in Ethiopia context), county or districts (Woreda at Ethiopia Context) and townships level (kebele at Ethiopia context).There are 13 municipalities directly under the jurisdiction of the province and a further administrative division of 97 counties, among which 21 are county-level cities, 21 counties and 55 districts in the province.

Nanjing is the capital of the Jiangsu. Focus is placed on the integration of infrastructure, public crevices, urbanization and industrialization. Besides, the other cities like Suzhou, Xuzhou, and Wuxi are very wealthy and much best developed cities in the province.

The Yangtze River flows through the city in a west-east direction, with a coastline stretching 308 kilometers.

The infrastructure has significantly improved in the province. The total length of expressway amountes to 4,539 kilometer, and each and every county (woredas) in the province is within 30 minutes' drive from expressway. All together, 2,679 kilometers long railway is put into operation.

Development between urban and rural areas and among regions turned more balanced in Jiangsu province. Agricultural modernization has gained momentum in the province, with its agricultural added value ranking the third and grain production the fifth in the country. The agricultural sector is based on crops of rice, wheat, peanuts, and cotton. Employment has witnessed steady growth with 6.816 million new jobs created in cities and 18.75 million rural population transferred out of agriculture in the five years. Evidences show, as the new type of urbanization and urban-rural integration were expedited, lifting urbanization rage to 66.5%. South, central and north Jiangsu compete with each other in development.

On 5 September 2015, with his official delegation, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn had paid visit to Jiangsu province in China. During Premier state visit Ethio--Jiangsu trade and investment forum was held. More than 250 Chinese business groups had joined to the forum to work together in the future. Different social and economical cooperation agreements were signed by officials from booth sides.

I had also got a chance to visit Jiangsu briefly with 22 African countries media group. Jiangsu boasts of an overall successful economic development, with a foreign investment structure. By the end of March 2016, there were 353 companies from Jiangsu active in Africa in different spheres, with an aggregate capital of USD 3.17 billion. Among the 33 projects, those with a total contract value of USB 340 million have investment in Ethiopia.

For instance, the Eastern Industry Zone of Ethiopia, which is listed among priority projects of the industrial development plan by the Government of Ethiopia, has been developed by Suzhou with an outlay of 41.69 million USA dollars including its basic infrastructure. The total sales volume of enterprises ,in the industry zone, hit 450 million USD. It pays taxes of 30 million USD to the Ethiopian Government and provides 981 jobs for people of the host country.

Jiangsu's investment focuses on light textile industries,construction materials, timber, and mineral resources including cooper and uranium, mainly targeting countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tanzania. In 2015, there were 41 projects newly invested by Jiangsu in Africa, accounting for 6.9% of the new investment made by Jiangsu. Officials of Jiangsu say "We organize branded Chinese goods exhibition in Tanzania every year to facilitate trade cooperation!"

However, there were so many criticisms from different sources, about the Chinese government follow up of investment projects in Africa. During our media visit to Jiangsu, an official meeting in his office was held with Mr. Luo Zhijun, the Jiangsu Party Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Jiangsu Provincial Committee. Questions related with the commitment of Jiangsu officials in following up investment projects in Africa was raised by Africa journalists.

According to Mr. Luo Zhijun, Jiangsu always encourages and guides provincial enterprises involved in overseas investment to adopt local economic realizations. Mr. Lou added as "Our enterprises must abide by local laws, respect African customs and protect the environment". He highlighted that they would help their enterprises blend into the local society and establish the right concept of rightness and benefit as the provisional government.

Mr. Luo said that the government doesn't only guide and dedicate Africa eyeing enterprises. It also provides a serious service convenience working environment; specifically, facilities, administrative advise, offering investment reference and delivering relevant information. "We wish African governments deliver better services efficiently to facilitate the investment Jiangsu enterprises launch. In the hosting countries better security of the lawful right and social development must be ensured." Mr. Luo added.

Therefore, from the actual condition of China-Africa cooperation, it is hopeful that skeptics, seeing facts on the ground and nudged out of their biases , would learn a lot. China Africa cooperation leans on solidarity, equality, friendly relationship, mutual benefit, common trust and understanding. These are not only slogans or mere phrases, but the manifestation of the actual relationship of China Africa cooperation in the 21st era.

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