“China, Africa Can Fight Poverty Together” -Chinese Foreign Minister

By Fredrick P. W. Gaye in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and AU Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat at the forum

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and AU Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat at the forum

 

A two-day Africa-China High-Level Dialogue and Think Tank Forum has ended in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the Chinese Government reaffirming its commitment to fighting poverty together with Africa.

Held at the African Union (AU) Headquarters, the forum focused particularly on the way poverty has been dealt with in China and in Africa in the past two decades. It drew lessons from the two decades of poverty alleviation experience of government and civil society organizations. Particular focus was given to rural poverty and to the type of policies and programs that have made the most impact. Selected case studies from Africa were presented to allow scholars, policy makers, and civil society organizations, to identify main features of policy directions in successfully alleviating poverty.

Making an opening statement, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China and African nations can work together to eradicate poverty from the world.

He said that while Africa needs to lift 400 million out of poverty, China still has over 40 million living below the poverty line.

“This is the responsibility we should shoulder today for our future generations. This is also the common goal that Chinese and African people are working for,” Wang said.

A new book by President Xi Jinping has been central to the debate at the Africa-China High-Level Dialogue and Think Tank Forum. The theme of the forum, is Fighting Against Poverty for Common Prosperity.

The book, Up and Out of Poverty, published in English at the end of 2016, is a collection of speeches and articles by the president when he was Party chief of Ningde prefecture of Fujian province almost 30 years ago.

When Xi went to the province in 1988 at the age of 35, the prefecture had a GDP per capita of $198. Last year it was $8,000.

“The thoughts and ideas of the book are important, such as the emphasis on clean government and the focus on the economy. They are as important today for China to eradicate poverty but also for developing economies,” Wang said in his keynote speech. “The book has been warmly welcomed in many, many countries, I believe it can also shed light on useful experience for our African friends.”

Wang also emphasized that the Chinese government remains committed to eliminating all poverty in China by 2020. This, he said, was a key part of its central goal to become a “moderately well-off society” by the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in 2021. “Eradication of poverty is one of the important preconditions for this.”

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union, told the forum that China and Africa were united in their determination to eliminate poverty.“It is a two-way relationship and we can learn considerably with humility from one another,” he said.

The forum, co-chaired by the AU Leadership Academy and the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University, was also addressed by Huang Youyi, who was responsible for the translation of Xi’s book.

The vice-president of the Translators Association of China said the book’s message is that poverty can be eradicated only by people not looking “to others for the answers” to their problems but to look to themselves to find solutions.

He added that Xi’s success in Ningde was about each village in the prefecture specializing in what it did best. Each village was to focus on a specialized product, whether it was grapes, tea, mushrooms or aquatic products,” Huang said, citing Xi’s book “Since the local industry was rather weak, he proposed they must develop the processing industry by using local resources.”

Arkebe Oqubay, inter-ministerial coordinator for Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, said the book had valuable lessons for countries like Ethiopia, which is trying to establish itself as a major manufacturing center.