COVID-19 brings opportunities to enhance China-Africa ties, says Zambian expert

Zambian President Edgar Lungu (L) meets and greets Chinese workers from Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC Intl) during a walk on September 15, 2018 on a major road in Lusaka, Zambia. – China is the main investor in Zambia as it is in several other African countries and with its offers of “unconditional” aid, most public tenders are awarded to Chinese bidders. (Photo by DAWOOD SALIM / AFP) (Photo credit should read DAWOOD SALIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Zambian President Edgar Lungu (L) meets and greets Chinese workers from Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC Intl) during a walk on September 15, 2018 on a major road in Lusaka, Zambia. (Photo by DAWOOD SALIM / AFP) (Photo credit should read DAWOOD SALIM/AFP/Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented opportunities for China and Africa to take their cooperation to another level, an expert in international relations said on Thursday.

Aaron Siwale, lecturer of Political Science at the University of Zambia, said COVID-19 may have hurt the economies of both China and African countries but noted that could be a step towards enhancing the relationship.

In an interview he acknowledged that Africa may not be able to get the kind of support it previously had from China, due to the pandemic, as it may have to channel resources to revive its industries.

According to Siwale, Africa should take a bold step and loan China raw materials needed to revive industries because it will have a ripple effect on the continent.

“Africa can actually help China by providing raw materials. This is going to be a positive move,” he said.

He said the cooperation between China and Africa in the last 20 years has been symbiotic and positive as it has resulted in massive infrastructure developments on the continent.

He said reports that China’s ties with Africa were exploitative should be dismissed because the two have clearly defined what they need from each other.

“On China’s interactions with Africa, China has aspirations that it seeks to achieve and those aspirations are to maintain or grow its economy and the African countries are equally looking to amass some economic assistance from China,” he added.

He acknowledged that China has had a great influence in the development of the African continent which dates back to the pre-independence period, adding that this was evidenced by the massive infrastructure developed.

He noted that the difference between China and the western world’s relations with Africa borders on the fact that China has refused to get entangled in African politics but the relationship has been purely on economic terms.

African governments, he said, were keen to enhance ties with China because they have seen the benefits that have so far accrued from the ties, but noted that African countries need to improve on their negotiations with China.

He further said African countries will do well in promoting the cooperation by ensuring that they use the resources given for intended purposes instead of mismanaging them.

He said Africa should emulate China which has zero-tolerance to corruption by ensuring prudent use of resources donated by the Asian nation.

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