An Article on Sino-African economic relations published by China Daily on May 31, 2012
BEIJING - Gathered in Beijing for the first international fair for service trade, officials from Africa have applauded burgeoning Sino-African cooperation.
"We have resources that China needs, and I do not believe China is plundering our resources," said Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai.
Morgan Tsvangirai was in Beijing attending the International Fair for Trade in Services, which had attracted more than 22,000 service providers from 82 countries and regions to foster trade in the sector.
At a forum on Sino-African service trade and investment, Morgan Tsvangirai dismissed accusations of China "robbing" resources in Africa, saying despite the presence of Chinese investments in a wide range of areas, his country had full control over how the contracts should run.
China has become the largest trading partner to Africa, with the bilateral trade reaching a record high of $160 billion in 2011.
Also, the continent has become a major investment destination for Chinese enterprises, where over 2,000 Chinese companies have invested in various sectors ranging from electronics, telecommunications to transport.
But these cooperations had triggered criticism from some countries, with some accusing China of practicing "new colonialism" in Africa.
Instead of resource plundering, Bheki Langa, South African ambassador to China, said at the forum that Chinese projects on the African continent, including dam construction, telecommunications, airports and roads, had helped create jobs and drive technological development there.
Compared with European countries and US, China's trade growth with African countries has been relatively steady.
"African countries' foreign trade has taken a hit from the global financial crisis of 2008, especially exports to the European countries and US, but Sino-African trade has maintained steady," said Henri Mumba, Malawi's deputy ambassador to China, adding the claims that "Sino-African cooperation puts African countries at a disadvantage" were "definitely wrong."
While calling for more cooperation in the traditional sectors of infrastructure and manufacturing, officials on both sides now seek to expand trade in the service sector.
Li Jinzao, Chinese vice minister of commerce, said Tuesday that China will further deepen cooperation with Africa in the service trade.
"Sino-African cooperation in the service sector, though at a small scale currently...has ample room for growth in the future," he said.
With China's expanding presence in the continent, African countries also expressed hopes that China could help further facilitate their development efforts.
"My hope is that my country can cope with a variety of challenges in its development, such as energy, water supply, roads and education...and China can play a significant role in this process," said Morgan Tsvangirai.