A Liberian scholar and Professor of International Relations and Foreign Policy Studies at the Ibraham Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Graduate Program of International Studies of the University of Liberia, Professor Josephus Moses Gray, Ph.D., on Monday, August 26th addressed the 8th Meeting of China-Africa Think Tanks Forum held at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Beijing, the People’s Republic of China. The international think tanks forum brought together over 300 Chinese-African academics including proven professors, researchers, intellectuals, senior emissaries and professor emeritus from Africa five regions and across China. The instructive speech which was delivered through a power-point presentation provides some equilibriums of China-African long-standing unique bond which has been a win-win situation and further discuss how China and Africa shared similar experiences, both having suffered from aggression, plunder and enslavement by colonialists.
The speech recounted a historical perspective of China-African relationship and how the relations ushered into a new era of all-round development that is having great impacts on the lives of millions on both fronts. The UL professor used the international podium to provide a cool and composed contrast to western journalists’ blustery demeanor and perception of China-Africa’s ties and analyzed the existing challenges facing current Sino-African relations and the outlook for development and areas of potential innovation in the next decade. The speech rightly offered a subtle yet sharp rebuke of the global antiquated, anti-China-China new level of relations and recounts the numerous benefits of the ties existing between China and African in the content of win-win cooperation.
China and Africa “have always belonged to a community of shared values and fruitful future” and “have always been good friends who stand together through thick and thin, good partners who share weal and woe, and good friends who fully trust each other despite changes in the international landscape. My distinguished scholars, fortunately, good development depends on good governance and unique social order depends on strong government and strong industrials. It is very important that China uses the FOCAC’s summit to tech African leaders how to fish than simply give African leaders the fish and ensure that the issue of socio-economic and political “management” will be at the top of the agenda of FOCAC next summit to help keep the continent on the path with other continents. Below is the full text of Professor Gray’s speech.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
My distinguished guests, I am delighted to be present here today in this historic City of Beijing to join distinguished scholars of acclaimed academic professional backgrounds. Thank you for inviting me to come here to participate in this year’s 8 Meeting of China-Africa Think Tanks Forum held under the theme: “China and Africa: Toward Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future”.
When you first asked me, I was honored as you know; this is a cause that is so dear to my heart. I’ve been looking forward to attending this exceptional academic forum. Many of you covered long distances served to remind us all just how significant our presence is in meeting our common objective for an amazing and successful international interaction at this year’s China-Africa Think Tanks Forum.
My distinguished colleagues, it is an honor to be in the midst of renowned academics and scholars of incredible achievements. Let us respectfully keep the dream of this international forum in place and keeping in mind its objectives for the realization of our common patrimony of which we have traveled long distances to gather here and respectfully deliberate on the theme of this forum: “Toward Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future”.
First of all, I wish to thank the Chinese in Liberia, the government of China and good and sociable people of the People’s Republic of China for the invitation for us to be present here and share our feelings, opinions and thoughts regarding China-Africa Think Tanks Forum and for giving us the opportunity to speak here and interact face to face with all of you. As a proven scholar and diplomat who have been involved with contemporary issues of national and international concerns for many years, I have cherished the insightful feelings being displayed at the four-day forum, the interactions, the beautiful speeches, and courtesies accorded one another. The atmosphere is great and amazing.
I am very pleased to be with you here today to fully participate in this year’s China-Africa Think Tanks Forum. This is always a unique opportunity to share a few convictions and an understanding of the topic and its importance, in which we must collectively present our ideas, must meet our expectations, and jointly share our ideas and show courtesy to each other.
Our presence at this year’s Think Tanks Forum comes with enormous challenges and great responsibility because we are representing our beloved professions, institutions, countries, our history, the ideals and with high demands and determination to introduce new-driven ideas and dynamism of China-Africa friendship and cooperation.
Despite the vast oceans that separate China and Africa, the friendship between China and Africa remained unquestionable, dated back to ancient times and transcended both time and space. Communication and indirect trade between China and Africa started as early as over 3000 years ago. By the 6th century, China and Africa already had direct contacts via sea route. According to pages of history, in the 15th century, Zheng He, the well-known Chinese navigator of that time, led fleets to the east coast of Africa for four times and visited places in Somalia and Kenya of today. Even now, the remnants of the crew of Chinese fleets can still be found in Kenya.
In 2002, the copy of a Chinese map entitled “Da Ming Hun Yi Tu”, which dates back to the year of 1389 and is identified as the earliest map indicating the outline of the whole African continent in the world, made a stir in South Africa, when it was displayed as part of the Parliamentary Millennium Project exhibition in Parliament of South Africa. It proves that the contact between Chinese and Africans predates the European “discovery” of the African continent by over 100 years and China was the first country that established contacts with Africa.
Please allow me to speak to you on the topic: “New Era of China-Africa Friendship and Cooperation: A Unique Opportunity towards Building a Great Community with a Shared Future”. This speech discusses a wide range of global issues especially the new era of China-Africa Friendship and Cooperation. The emphasis of this speech is the current international situations, solidarity, and cooperation between China-Africa relations and the course of development of how to build an even stronger community with a shared future. The speech reflects on my work and thinking.
The speech provides a cool and composed contrast to western journalists’ blustery demeanor and perception of China-Africa’s ties and discusses the existing challenges facing current Sino-African relations and the outlook for development and areas of potential innovation in the next decade. The speech rightly offers an understated and sharp reaction to the global outdated, anti-China-Africa new level of relations. Besides, the speech recounts the numerous benefits of the ties existing between China and African in the content of win-win cooperation.
The speech further covers various topics Including developmental peace approach, which implies the replacement of the current hard-power and West-centric world with a soft power, multi-polar global order; industrialization pack and development co-operation, expressed in Beijing’s support for the African Union’s 2063 agenda; trade and investment, which involves substantial financial support for Africa’s industrialization and infrastructure building, roads, modern railways and airways, and people-to-people diplomacy, signified by the growing interaction which is mainly government-to-government, Chinese and African non-State actors.
This speech has been prepared as a reflective work and my thoughts and responses to the theme of this year’s 8 Meeting of China-Africa Think Tanks Forum. This speech consists of my critical way of thinking as regards the theme of this forum which is “China and Africa: Toward Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future”.
The Eighth Meeting of China-Africa Think Tanks Forum offers a window to explore the development of international relationships between China and Africa; this gives all the scholars and representatives of diplomatic missions, think tanks institutions and organizations a good opportunity to explore the win-win cooperation and relationship built between China and Africa for socio-economic gain. Unlike the previous held China-Africa Think Tanks Forum, this year’s Forum must go beyond promises but should provide proven achievements, let go outside of beautiful speeches and promises but rallies our skills, innovations, professionalism, and energies to get down to work.
The forum should strengthen relations through this forum to promote extensive research and exchanges of scholars. Both African and China need to demonstrate solidity for the exchange of scholars annually to promote new ideas and innovation for the mutual benefits of the African and Chinese society and a deeper understanding of China-African relations. The objectives of the China-Africa Think Tank Forum which includes promoting China-Africa’s Global Economic Cooperation through sharing knowledge and research on infrastructure, economic development should be respectful while the process to establish global think tanks network committed to building great cooperation between China and African Countries must be accomplished.
The time has come for everyone attending this year’s Chinese and African think tanks Forum to demonstrate a commitment to the principles of FOCAC and at the same time work diligently in the spirit of unity and mutual trust and innovation for the greater good of China and Africa’s friendship and cooperation. In harmony and unity, back by determination and commitment to the ten principles of FOCAC, we must counter the western media anti-criticism of China-Africa cooperation and friendship.
We must demonstrate our commitment and respect for FOCAC, encourage the current unique and esteemed friendship prevailing between China and African countries, and also promote new innovation, industrialization pack, and economic development, respect our shared values, core interests, ideas and respect for each other’s chosen development roadmap. The time is now to work towards the full application of FOCAC’s ten plans.
I want to encourage all the scholars and researchers attending this Eighth Meeting of China-Africa Think Tank Forum to exchange ideas on promoting China-Africa cooperation in industrial capacity, infrastructure, and agriculture, ways of increasing the voice of Asian and African countries in the international stage, exchange of professors, enhance the roles Chinese and African think tanks played in political and economic development, and means of enhancing the communication and cooperation between China and Africa in the field that benefit the two parties.
Let me reiterate the need for African leaders and governments to govern in line with constitutionalism, respect the rule of law and the will of the people. African leaders should show commitment to international best practices, respect for democratic governance, institute industrialize policy based on shared values and principles. Africa needs to formulate its own ideas and policies that marched the continent best practices, and not the western concept. Africa needs Industrialization and modernizations based on principles and shared values. The speech will remind academics scholars that good development depends on good governance and unique social order depends on strong government and strong industrials, therefore, Africa should not focus on what China takes away but what Africa can gain from the relations with China for human development and general growth of the African continent.
China and Africa have shared historic facts-China is the world’s faster developing economic and hold the world’s largest population, while Africa is the host of abundant rich natural resources, brilliant cultures, hard-working, talented and courageous people and a significant contributor to the advancement of human civilization and world development. Africa is one of the cradles of mankind.
From the early days of the rise of Pan-Africanism in the 20th century to the formation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963 which now gives birth to the African Union (AU) in 2002 in Libya, the African continent seeks strength through harmony and accomplishing renaissance of civilization, has long been a cherished aspiration of the African people. The people of Africa have made great efforts on the path of a united front through unity, thus leaving behind glorious pages of success and notable endeavors.
To my distinguished colleagues from across the continent, representing notable governments and institutions of high esteem, Africa must firmly uphold the road to peace, solidity and socio-economic development; Africa cannot achieve peace and development in isolation from the world, and the world needs Africa for stability and prosperity, and Africa needs the world. The world should assist in a peaceful, stable and constantly developing Africa is a blessing for the world. In a land that has gone through so many wars and conflicts, where communities and homes have been broken down where the youthful population seeks socio-economic development and human development, the world should pay key attention to Africa’s economic plead for help which calls for our extra care.
Kindly permit me to provide a little clear balance of China-African long-standing exceptional relationship which has been a win-win situation. China is the largest developing country in the world and Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. China and Africa are faced with both historical opportunities for greater development and unprecedented challenges that without doubts are turning into prospects for both countries and peoples. In contemporary history, China and Africa shared similar experiences, both having suffered from aggression, plunder, and enslavement by colonialists. Therefore, the Chinese people and the people of Africa have all along rendered each other solidarity and support and shared weal and woe in their struggles against imperialism and for national independence and liberation.
In 1949, the birth of new China opened up a new chapter in Sino-African relations. Since the 1950s and 1960s, as more and more African countries won independence and established diplomatic relations with China, the Sino-African relationship was ushered into a new era of all-round development that is having great impacts on the lives of millions on both fronts; the presence of China in Africa’s development cannot be questioned, China is visible on the continued march as evident by the hundreds of projects undertaking or completed, while new agreements have been consolidated for an effective implementation.
The China-Africa Think Tasks should support the exchange of ideas in the areas of promoting industrial capacity, infrastructure and agriculture, ways of increasing the voice of the parties, economic development, and means of tightening the communication gape and cooperation between African countries and China.
In the contemporary world, Africa is rated as the continent that has experienced the most frequent coup d’états around the world, in contemporary Africa, out of the current 54 States, there are so far only Eight (South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, Mozambique, Djibouti, Malawi, Namibia, and Mauritius) that have not experienced a successful or failed military coup or an armed insurgency. The central reason for the formation of the United Nations as entrenched in the UN Charter primary responsibility is: To tirelessly main international peace and security and to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and in the equal rights of large and small nations, to ensure fairness and respect of international law, to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
In the area of safeguarding global peace and promoting an era of a common development squally rallied on two main dynamics, workable policy and inclusiveness backed by sincerity and fairness including good governance, respect for human rights, socio-economic and industrialization; all shielded by an international best practices and standards. The concept of world peace promotes and helps to unify individual rights and collective rights, unifies basic principles including socio-economic, political, industrialization and innovations are geared towards promoting an era of common development and shared values.
African countries see socio-economic and infrastructure development as pillars of safeguarding peace, stability and Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind with African countries promoting Belt and Road, infrastructure and socio-economic development, human resource development and inclusive economic growth. Both approaches are necessary but neither is alone sufficient to achieve sustainable development.
Considering Africa’s economic apathy and development gape, the construction of a community of shared future for mankind entails instituting the right policy at the right time by the right people at the right place, while those at the helm of leadership on the continent must be proactive not reactive and worse of all passive; in paying keen attention to Chinese innovations, industrialization and a win-win diplomacy. The new dynamic of the global system shows that China has energetically provided the intercontinental public with a succession of the productive public with new motivation innovations into the emerging concept of building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind.
Let us introduce strategies and push forward in the area of industrialization pact on the continent and work towards enhancing China- Africa win-win cooperation in the areas of economic and infrastructure development, belt and road construction, manufacturing and skill development. Importantly, let us respectfully analyze China’s development experience, Africa’s opportunities and challenges for achieving sustainable development, mutual of China-Africa friendship and cooperation. Other areas of concerned are: the roles Chinese and African think tanks played in political and economic development, means of enhancing the communication and cooperation between China and Africa’s economic and social institutions.
Africa must emulate China’s amazing 70 years of development agenda to develop labor industrials and cooperation. Africa needs to realize that the labor industrial is intense and increase labor industrial to an appreciable and greater level. China not only is an important driving force of global economic growth but also makes a significant contribution to global order in promoting interconnectivity between countries and regions. China has accomplished what took developed countries hundreds of years to accomplish and become an upper-middle-income country from a low-income one. China has overcome the great divergence of development among different countries formed after the first industrial revolution and made a miraculous economic catch-up from behind.
China’s remarkable jump has been made from an impoverished society which only depended on sufficient food and clothing to a flourishing society in the world. The state now plays a better role in the international arena due to its improved socio-economic situation. In the past, China was listed among the poorest nations on earth, and the state was blemished by the failure of the Great Leap Forward and the political disorders during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. The country integration into the global economy was trifling, its industry was ineffective. Nowadays, China has become the world’s second economic power in decade or two, to the bewilderment of many economists and political scientists, and thanks mainly to four dynamics factors.
Chinese industries are not only getting closer to the technological frontier in conventional areas such as electronics, machinery, automobiles, high-speed railways and aviation but also driving technological innovations in emerging areas. The country has over the past 60 years greatly enhanced its transportation capacity, with railways, highways, airports, and ports built one after another. China not only is an important driving force of global economic growth but also makes a significant contribution to maintaining world peace and stability as well as promoting interconnectivity between countries and regions.
Africa’s foreign exchange and financial policy are not unique and centered on individualism, Africa needs to rely on its ideas and innovations and not the western concept of development. Can Africa learn from China 40 years of opening up and remarkable achievement which are based on Chinese’s own ideas, principles and shared values? The area of persistent changed of leadership on the African continent undermines development. The constant change of political leadership is stalling Africa’s economic, social and political growth, which to some greater extend leads to the undermining of developmental projects.
African leaders and governments need to institute an industrialize policy based on shared values and principles. My distinguished colleagues, Africa needs to formulate its own ideas and policies that marched the continent best practices, and not the alienated western concept. This forum should encourage African governments and leaderships need to identify priority areas of interests such as areas of investment and development. These areas should be based on principles and shared values conformity with FOCAC ten plans.
I have no doubt that African governments and leaders have lots of lessons to be learned about China’s remarkable achievements of the 40 years of opening up especially in the field of agriculture which plays an important part in China moving forward. Africa needs to learn from China for its own development and economic growth.
My distinguished scholars, fortunately, good development depends on good governance and unique social order depends on strong government and strong industrials. It is very important that China uses the FOCAC’s summit to tech African leaders how to fish than simply give African leaders the fish and ensure that the issue of socio-economic and political “management” will be at the top of the agenda of FOCAC next summit to help keep the continent on the path with other continents.
China and Africa have since then become all-weather friends that understand, support and help each other. China and Africa “have always belonged to a community of shared values and fruitful future” and “have always been good friends who stand together through thick and thin, good partners who share weal and woe, and good friends who fully trust each other despite changes in the international landscape. Both Africa and Chinese leaderships should adhere to the principles of good governance which include sincerity, inclusiveness and respect for the rule of law, practical results, affinity, and good faith and uphold the values of friendship, and shared interests.
For the record, this is Dr. Gray’s third time to be officially selected to attend and delivered a research paper on behalf of Liberian academics. Last year he attended two international conferences in Beijing, China, and Rabat, Morocco. He spoke on the topic: “China and Africa Countries’ Independent Exploration of Development Paths: Experience and Inspiration” at the 7th Meeting of the China-Africa Think Tank Forum in Beijing, China. While the topic of his speech at the Rabat’s Academic Symposium was on the Theme: “Safeguarding World Peace, Promoting a New Era of a Common Development, Belt and Road a Community of a Shared Future”. This year’s February, he also delivered a power-point on behalf of the University of Liberia on the topic: Democratic governance and National Development: Lesson for the federal republic of Nigeria.
I THANK YOU ALL