African scholars see benefits in China-Africa relations

NAIROBI, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- African scholars on Thursday criticized sentiments often expressed by the Western countries that China is out to exploit Africa.

During a meeting of African and Chinese scholars in Nairobi, the scholars cited progress made by the continent in last decade that deepened relations with China, saying it is an indication of win-win relations.

A cross-section of scholars interviewed by Xinhua in Nairobi said the West is disrespecting the ability of Africa to make a choice on whom to relate to saying that with the current high level of awareness in the continent, there would have been protests from Africans against relations with China.

"Instead, what we are seeing from the preliminary studies done is that there is an increase in people to people relations and cultural exchange by the two partners," said Dr Lloyd Adu Amoah, a lecturer at the Ashesi University College in Ghana.

The scholars however agreed that there is a need to increase cultural interaction among Africans and the Chinese so that existing prejudices can be addressed through cultural understanding.

China-Africa relations have peaked in the last 10 years resulting in tremendous growth of trade for instance from 10 billion U.S. dollars in the year 2000 to 166.3 billion dollars in 2011 while the value of China investments in Africa reached 15.3 billion dollars, an increase of 30 times ten years ago.

Chinese President Hu Jintao announced during the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that China will spend 20 billion dollars in the next three years as credit line to African countries.

The transformational growth in relations has attracted interest from Europe, the dominant colonizers of Africa until early 1960s and the United States has worked hard to build relations with Africa for a long time. 2012-08-10 07:26:06

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on record as having cautioned Africa to be careful in their relations with China insinuating that Beijing is out to exploit Africa.

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Guangyuan said China-Africa relations have been disturbed by such comments and negative media coverage.

"The cooperation between China and Africa has yielded fruitful results and has firmly been supported by the two peoples. However, some countries and some persons with ulterior motives often make irresponsible comments such as claiming that China is pursuing neo- colonialism and neo-mechanism in Africa," he said.

He said such groundless criticisms have misled the public opinions from the international society on these relations.

"It is therefore necessary for China and Africa to work together to sweep away these noises and create favorable environments for the sound development of the two partners," he added.

Scholars interviewed by Xinhua agreed that there is a need to increase people to people interactions between Chinese and Africans to remove barriers that are created by cultural differences.

Scholars agreed that the roll-out of Confucius Institutes in Africa that teach Chinese culture and language should be encouraged as they offer Africans opportunity to understand Chinese further.

They said Chinese should also make efforts to understand Africa despite the challenge of uniqueness of the continent's diverse culture

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