Chinese investments in Africa continue to rise and spread through all economic and non-economic sectors despite expectations that the COVID-19 pandemic will threaten China-Africa relations. Along with signing bilateral agreements to develop rail line projects, roads, construction of government buildings, and other infrastructure, China is also offering its resources and expertise to help solve Africa’s poverty and security challenges.
However, the Africa-China friendship is more than just economic cooperation, encompassing knowledge-sharing, cultural appreciation, and green development through initiatives like the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the Belt and Road Initiative, Confucius Institutes, and more. Below are some reasons why the Africa-China relationship is beyond economic cooperation.
Bridging the Language Barrier
According to the Chinese Language Council, there are 54 Confucius Institutes (CIs) spread across 33 countries. As of 2018, there were 27 Confucius Classrooms (CCs) in Africa. Most of the CIs are in universities or colleges, while CCs operate in middle and high schools.
The objectives of both these initiatives are to teach Chinese culture and language around the world. The institute helps promote cultural exchanges between China and Africa through advanced teaching methods and offering a wide range of cultural activities.
Moreover, China has set up around 150 pairs of sister cities in Africa to encourage people-to-people ties while also making efforts to enrich the continent’s cultural life.
Promoting Environmental Protection and Healthcare
China has started various public-oriented, eco-friendly projects in some African states to boost trade and locally based industrial operations as well. China’s contribution to seafood farming, maritime scientific research, and shipping transportation is becoming highly notable in countries like Seychelles and Cape Verde.
Moreover, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, China built a COVID-19 vaccine delivery conduit to help immunize Africa, initiating a cold-chain air bridge from Shenzhen to Ethiopia. Nearly 40 African states have thus received 5.85 million vaccine doses from China. However, even before the outbreak of COVID-19, China had already been providing technical and professional expertise to help Africa improve its public health systems and pharmaceutical industry.
Promoting Strategic Development Projects
Lastly, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has proven to be the perfect initiative to help African countries build infrastructure projects that will enhance economic growth and development. Over 1,100 cooperation projects are ongoing in Africa, with about 100,000 Chinese technicians and engineers on the ground to provide support to these projects. Knowledge transfer is also a big part of the initiative to ensure adequate maintenance after completion.
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