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Print Edition> World
UPDATED: October 29, 2012 NO. 44 NOVEMBER 1, 2012
Peace and Progress in Africa
Taking a scholarly approach to Sino-African cooperation
By Sheng Hongsheng

JOINT EFFORT: Chinese and African scholars attend the Second Meeting of the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum on October 12 in Bishoftu, Ethiopia (SHENG HONGSHENG)

The Second Meeting of the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum (CATTF II) took place in the Ethiopian town of Bishoftu, about 45 km south of Addis Ababa, on October 12-13. During the two-day event, more than 100 participants, including researchers and experts from China, 15 African states and other countries, discussed issues of common interest, with a focus on governance, peace and security. Participants also exchanged views on China's non-interference policy, its role in regional integration and peace-building, and China's contribution to economic and social development in Africa.

The CATTF II showcased the theme of "Chinese and African Common Interests: Current Issues and Future Perspectives on Governance, Peace and Security" in a follow-up event of its previous meeting, which emphasized the need to improve the security situation in Africa. The CATTF is an initiative launched by Zhejiang Normal University in 2011 to create a shared platform for dialogue and exchanges between Chinese and African think tanks. It has since been supported by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce as well as a growing number of governmental, corporate and academic partners.

The CATTF upholds the principles of civil participation, governmental support, frank dialogue and consensus seeking through links between Chinese and African think tanks and scholars from other parts of the world interested in Sino-African relations.

Good governance, peace and security are relevant issues for Africa as well as for China-Africa cooperation. With closer coordination and collaboration, China and Africa have become important forces in safeguarding world peace and stability. In addition, China firmly supports African countries in building democracy and legal systems and will increase experience-sharing on governance with African countries on an equal footing.

Some accuse China of seeking economic benefits from Africa while ignoring African peace and security affairs. In reality, China's commitment to the principle of non-interference can by no means be interpreted as indifference to Africa's peace and security. To respond to these accusations, Chinese scholars argued at the CATTF II that the principles of the UN Charter should be observed and intervention in violation of the charter should not be accepted, regardless whether it is humanitarian intervention or pro-democracy intervention.

At the meeting, participants underlined the importance of promoting mutual understanding, consolidating friendship and presenting recommendations that will help enhance the comprehensive cooperative relations between China and Africa.

China has made great contributions to peace and security in Africa. It is the largest trading partner of the continent and the largest contributor of peacekeepers to Africa among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

At the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Beijing in July, China announced new measures to support the cause of peace and development in Africa and boost the all-round growth of China-Africa ties in investment and finance, African integration, as well as people-to-people exchanges. China supports and actively participates in peacekeeping operations in Africa, and provides necessary support to African countries and regional organizations for their capacity building. It will continue such endeavors so as to make China-Africa cooperation more fruitful.

After the meeting, participants visited the Eastern Industrial Zone in Dukem, developed jointly by China and Ethiopia, and the newly opened conference center of the African Union in Addis Ababa built with China's assistance. These projects are symbols of the rapid development of China-Africa cooperation in recent years.

The author is a professor of public international law with Zhejiang Sci-Tech University

Email us at: yanwei@bjreview.com

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