China's engagement with Africa fruitful: Kenyan scholar

NAIROBI, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- China's strategic application of soft power has not only won the hearts and minds of its bilateral allies in Africa, but has as well consolidated its influence in the continent, a Kenyan scholar said on Sunday.

Professor Peter Kagwanja, CEO of the Nairobi-based Pan African think-tank, Africa Policy Institute, said Beijing has focused on knowledge driven, mutually beneficial and courteous approach in its dealing with African countries.

In a commentary published in Sunday Nation, Kagwanja noted that unlike the Western nations, China has exerted its influence in Africa through tactical promotion of development and people to people interactions.

"Beijing's scholars and foreign policy mandarins are experimenting on the power/knowledge model to win the hearts and minds of African thinkers and wielders of power in governments and regional groupings," Kagwanja wrote.

Kagwanja noted that China's embrace of a knowledge driven foreign policy model has worked effectively in Africa.

"China's new power/knowledge approach to African affairs is part of its emerging African strategy. Structurally, this strategy is anchored on China-Africa cooperation that Beijing unveiled in 1999," Kagwanja said.

The China-Africa Think Tanks Forum held in South Africa from Sept. 9-10 discussed strategies to revitalize historical ties between China and its allies in the rapidly developing continent.

Kagwanja said there is a consensus between China and its African allies that cooperation based on knowledge and skills transfer alongside non interference with a country's sovereignty will survive for the long haul.

"China is taking rather seriously the production of knowledge on its relations with Africa. Unsurprisingly, Beijing dispatched no less than 65 of its top policy thinkers, diplomats and academic experts on African affairs as delegates to the fourth meeting of the thinks-tanks," said Kagwanja.

China has invested heavily in Africa's socio-economic progress and political stability. Kagwanja said China's peaceful development model has struck a chord in African countries struggling to shake off western imperialism.

"The idea of developmental peace is manifested in China's increased involvement in peacekeeping, conflict resolution and humanitarian intervention in Africa," Kagwanja remarked.

He also hailed Beijing's rapid response to the Ebola outbreak that ravaged Western African countries last year."China dispatched a powerful medical team that operated units to contain the epidemic and treat its victims."

China's trade and investments in Africa that have surged in recent times have accelerated socio-economic transformation in the continent. Kagwanja stressed that China will be instrumental in the realization of the Africa's sustainable development agenda.

He hailed Beijing's support for infrastructure development in Africa while reiteratingthe "One Belt, One Road" initiatives will open a new chapter in Sino-Africa trade.

Sino-Africa cooperation in culture, education and arts has promoted people to people interactions, said Kagwanja, noting that people-centered diplomacy has boosted China's influence in Africa.

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