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How the majority of Africans think of Chinese

As a Chinese, I knew that we had a very good relationship with African countries since the Chinese government issued so many co-operations with Africa, but this was the impression before I went to Africa. Truth to be told, this image is quite wrong and somehow superficial, so I want to elaborate more on this topic as a Chinese based on what I heard and felt when I was in Uganda.

On the political level, Wikipedia reported that the trade between China and Africa increased by 700% during the 1990s, and China is currently Africa’s largest trading partner. The Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was established in October 2000 as an official forum to greatly strengthen the relationship. It seems it is a good relationship from a long time till now, I think it is understandable that government force a connection in between due to the national interests of both parties, so it is no doubt that there are several different aspects cooperation in between from economy, military, culture to health care projects. Indeed I can saw those Chinese influences in construction and economy.

China assisted Africa in four main areas based on the actual requirements of the continent: infrastructure construction (China has completed the construction of 5,000 km of railways and a similar length of roads, 14 airports, 10 ports, 34 power plants, and stadiums with a total capacity of 800,000 people), agriculture (China has established 22 agricultural demonstration centers, sent more than 10,000 specialists to Africa to share their knowledge, organized dozens of training courses on various branches of agriculture and invited African agricultural technicians to study in China), health care (Since 1963, China has dispatched 42 medical teams to Africa that have treated 18,000 people in 40 countries, with dozens of Chinese doctors sacrificing their lives in the process), and human resources development (China has provided over 7,300 government scholarships to students and trained more than 10,000 people at various levels in African countries. China also organizes over 100 training courses every year for people in Africa and other developing nations based on its development principle of “teaching people to fish.”) according to Chinadaily report.

From the macro perspective, China has done so many things to improve the life of African and it does, I can also benefit from those assist of China, especially the construction, I am proud to be a Chinese for this point. Then how about the African ordinary people think of Chinese and China?

When I was wandering around the city of Uganda, I saw several properties that belong to Chinese and most of them occupied so much land and resources. Once I even saw a Chinese paper making company, which makes paper out of local trees, suddenly, I realize this may equal to plunder resources as what most western countries have done from my Chinese subconscious. I heard some people complaining that the Chinese always invest in the local land which increased the price and I blame this to capitalism. One local people told me that he always think Chinese come here for investment but not other things. The government opened the door for citizens to exchange culture but also the door for monetary driven investment, and it is not wise to avoid such investment but I think we can do more based on my next point below. Overall, ordinary African take Chinese as the predator and they don’t think Chinese have helped with their daily life.

In my field, I have to get attached to so many NGOs and I also know there are so many local and international NGOs in Africa, the unique situation helps Africa to attract so many influential NGOs. From my experience, Chinese only doing language teaching in Africa but no or less NGO related work. I always see some NGOs originated from American and Europe even in the refugee camp, I know those NGOs assist Africans with soft skills to improve their lives with huge social impact. Hence, this is the point I mentioned that China can do more related to soft skills. Back to China itself, the local NGOs are still struggling to live to make the social impact, so it is understandable that the soft skills export is not easy at this moment. China has been neglecting the soft skills development for a long time even though the government has issued and made efforts to improve, but this is a long way to go and it deserves much more sacrifices and efforts from the government and grassroots level.

This post is a reflection on the Africa-China relation from my shallow view, I could not agree more on Chinese assistance on hard skills for Africa countries, but China needs to do more to achieve the better win-win and also a better reputation. A good heart must match with a good action and cause. Wish the China-Africa relations can go further and bring love and harmony along the way.

This article was edited by the original author without their consent, and should not be reproduced.

By Social Innovation Insight

We are the bridge of change!

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