As China think tanks agree on mutual growth, the future can only be bright for all

A general view of a road intersection amidst high-rise buildings on a hazy day in Beijing. There are many strong bonds that bind China and Africa together. Both know the pain of colonisation, poverty and under-development. Picture: Rolex Dela Pena/EPA

A general view of a road intersection amidst high-rise buildings on a hazy day in Beijing. There are many strong bonds that bind China and Africa together. Both know the pain of colonisation, poverty and under-development. Picture: Rolex Dela Pena/EPA

Published Apr 7, 2024


ONE of the most visible sources of success in any diverse group is the ability – and willingness – to reach consensus. In my book, consensus is the art of give-and-take.

My favourite synonym for consensus is “compromise”. Individuals and organisations often thrive on their ability to bend backwards. To be rigid in any position negates the spirit or the will to find one another. Many individuals and institutions have collapsed due to their obstinacy, read “stupidity”.

Human beings are created looking the same, but each one has their own mind and character. The pursuit of common goals through multilateral organisations requires a collective appreciation of the diverse background of each component.

But now, enough of my sermon, it suffices to point to the recent 13th Meeting of the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum (Forum) that was held in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam.

The outcomes pretty much support my standpoint above on the universal acknowledgement of “consensus”, or the art thereof. The organisers were pleased to announce at the end of the meeting between the global south key components – China and Africa – that they had reached a consensus.

They called on the international community “to deepen development co-operation based on the principles of mutual respect, solidarity, win-win co-operation, openness, and common prosperity, thereby enhancing knowledge-sharing, ideological consensus as well as cultural co-prosperity”.

There are many strong bonds that bind China and Africa together. Both know the pain of colonisation, poverty and under-development. In a more globalised international world order, where the global south, or “majority world”, has awoken from subjugation and successfully insisting on a world of equality and justice, China-Africa relations have become critical.

Beijing’s consistent foreign policy is premised on mutual benefits, shared growth and win-win co-operation that have come to define China’s Road and Belt Initiative, a vehicle aimed at joint rejuvenation through common development of China and Africa.

At the world for a such as the UN, World Trade Organization and other such bodies, China has proved its open solidarity with Africa and the global south, at times even using its veto power at the UN Security Council in defence of the agenda of the “majority world”.

At the Forum recently, the outcomes further proved the determination of Chinese and African think tanks to collaborate, and in addition force the attention of the international community – particularly the global north – to take note of the new era in international relations.

The Forum adopted eight key resolutions, and read separately or together, they paint the same picture of a collective desire to develop without leaving anyone behind.

The eight are listed as follows:

(1) We call for giving priority to development and exploring independent, people-centred paths of mutual respect and mutual learning. Now, China has become the world’s fastest-developing economy over the past decade. On the economy of scale, China is the world’s second-biggest economy after only the US.

Chinese manufacturing sector, ICT, energy and its success story of taking more than 800 million peasants out of poverty and turning them into a middle class has resulted in the UN lauding the world’s second-largest populous nation for pulling off a rare feat.

But China appreciates that the country cannot claim to be an economic success story surrounded by global south nations that lag behind in development.

Hence Beijing’s conscious effort to pull Africa and the rest of the “majority world” along, knowing that a world where there is hunger no more is a world at peace, finally.

This model of China’s development, together with Africa, is based on enhancing dialogue rather than conflicts, and also exchanging governance experiences.

The Forum proclaimed: “We will ensure that our development is for the people and by the people and the fruits of development are shared among human beings in a bid to protect everyone’s right to pursue a better life.”

(2) We call for promoting the building of an equal and orderly multipolar world to facilitate common development. This is a call for greater democracy and consensus-driven interactions in global affairs, and the call to increase the voice of developing nations in the international system.

(3) We call for advancing a universally beneficial and inclusive economic globalisation to share the dividends of development. This is a call for the elimination of trade barriers and “protectionism” that can give way to the establishment of fair and efficient global supply chain.

(4) We call for promoting reform of the international financial system actively to bridge the development gap.

Firstly, and regrettably, the international financial system has weaponised to fight geopolitical battles. As things stand, it is controlled and favours the “minority world”, or global north. This anomaly needs to be corrected urgently.

To bring about parity, the Forum resolved “to increase the shareholding and voting rights of emerging markets and developing countries in the International Monetary Fund, and establish a third executive director seat for African countries, and fully consider the interests of the least developed countries in Special Drawing Rights allocations.

(5) We call for aligning with international initiatives and national plans to strengthen high-quality sustainable development bonds. The Forum declared: Within the frameworks of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the AU Agenda 2063, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and others, we are committed to strengthen infrastructure connectivity and the free flow of production factors based on each country’s national plans.

(6) We call for activating domestic development through effective markets and proactive governments. The Forum declared “advocating the advancement of efficient, incorruptible and law-based governance, optimising macroeconomic regulation and public services to stimulate market vitality”. The modernisation of agriculture and industrialisation across Africa were also cited as a priority.

(7) We call for considering both traditional and non-traditional security threats to create a secure development environment. In short, the Forum undertook to value the legitimate security concerns of all countries, resolve conflicts – and there are plenty – through dialogue and consultation and strive to avoid wars, terrorism, diseases or pan-securitisation “traps” that hinder development.

And finally:

(8) We call for encouraging the adoption of more practical and effective measures to promote knowledge-sharing. This will be done through the implementation of a Global Civilisation Initiative and deepen exchanges and mutual learning between China and Africa.

Think tanks, by their very nature, are made of society’s most enlightened people, the bright sparks. That they were able to put their heads together successfully is of great credit to both sides for their desire and determination to pull their nations up by their bootstraps.

Too often, former colonies expect former colonial masters to occupy their pound seat, thereby remaining sub-human beings just as was the case in the era gone by. The Forum deserves high praise for the initiative, and hopefully they will put into action all their noble eight resolutions that are a summary of the huge work that lies ahead.

Abbey Makoe is publisher and editor-in-chief: Global South Media Network