China-Africa pact turns to think-tanks

NAIROBI, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Ten Chinese and a similar number of Think-tanks from Africa will start working together as the two partners seek to deepen understanding of their relations among the academia.

Chinese and Africa scholars who met in Nairobi on Thursday resolved that participating think-tanks will be identified although timelines were not set in the final communique agreed at the end of the one-day meeting.

Kenyan scholar Professor Macharia Munene of the United States International University (USIU) welcomed the new move saying it will help Africans understand Chinese better.

"China has been studying Africa but Africa has not been studying China. This needs to change so that Africa can improve how it engages with China," he said.

Beijing is seeking to tap the knowledge of African scholars to help it shape the deepening relations with Africa and be able to respond to changes through appropriate policies.

The relationship will give African scholars a rare opportunity that can enable them understand China better as there are a limited number of African think-tanks focusing on China.

China is seeking to open up more to Africans and open up to its intentions in the continent to wade-off sentiments expressed by the Western countries that China is out to exploit Africa.

The pool of African scholars that will participate in the think- tanks may also form a pool of advisers to their governments and communities on best policies they need to put in place to have win- win relations with China.

The necessity of the engagement especially for Africa is that successive studies have forecast that China-Africa relations will run longer as the two partners embrace each other's cultures and break the myths that limit people to people relations.

"I believe the scholars will come up with suggestions to build strong momentum to the development of the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership. The cooperation in culture, media and exchanges among women, youth and children should be priorities for further development of our cooperation," said China Ambassador to Kenya Liu Guangyuan.

"It is necessary for us to explain the truth to the people who are not clear about China-Africa relations. Let us try to deal with those people who spread fallacies, foment dissensions and deliberately hurt our progress," he added.

Think-tanks led cooperation is part of the Forum on China- Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), with the first meeting between entities from the two partners, the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum (CATTF) being held in 2011.

Scholars said the engagement will help solve arising problems in the partnership through research, discussions, reviewing practices and theories of cooperation.

The engagement is expected to result into better policies of cooperation and identification of priority areas that China and Africa should address including food shortage, health care, security and education.

During the Nairobi meeting however, scholars from the two sides agreed that cultural understanding and especially need to have a common language of communication remained crucial in enabling the common Chinese and African understand and appreciate the nature of the relations.

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