Liberian Educator Wants China Teach African Leaders How to Fish …As Chinese, African Academics Debate Critical Issues in Beijing

Prof. J. Moses Gray

( August 28, 2019, Beijing): Liberia’s official representative to this year’s international research policy forum (China-Africa Think Tanks Forum), Assistant Professor Josephus Moses Gray of the University of Liberia Graduate School of International Studies wants China to use the next FOCAC’s Summit planned for Dakar, Senegal to teach African leaders how to fish than simply give African leaders the fish.  He recommends that the issue of economic and political “management, be at the top of the agenda of FOCAC next summit. . The China-Africa Think Tanks Forum was established by the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University in 2011 and was officially incorporated into the framework of FOCAC in 2012.

It has become a fixed mechanism for China-Africa civil dialogue and an event for the institute to further develop African Studies with Chinese characteristics. It has since become policy and research-driven and has enlarged consensus by open dialogue and debates. The China-Africa think Tanks Forum is an international podium of academicism, intellectualism, displayed theses, debates, exchange of ideas, innovations, and discourse.

In his power-point presentation at the recent at Eighth Meeting of the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum the UL professor stressed the need for African state actors and policy-makers to formulate ideas and policies that marched the continent best practices and values, and not the western concept. He said the new era of the Sino-African relationship should usher in a new era of socio-economic benefits and win-win cooperation that great impact on the lives of millions on ordinary Chinese and Africans. He wants China to pay key attention to Africa’s economic plead for help which calls for our extra care.

According to him, African leaders and governments to govern in line with constitutionalism, respect the rule of law and the will of the people and explained the importance of African leaders showing commitment to international best practices, respect for democratic governance, institute policy based on shared values and principles.

He delivered a presentation on the topic: New Era of China-Africa Friendship and Cooperation: A Unique Opportunity towards Building a Great Community with a Shared Future. Professor Gray’s presentation placed emphasis on the current international situations, solidarity, and cooperation among developing countries, the course of development of China-Africa relations, and how to build an even stronger community with a shared future. A reporter of the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), Mr. Francis Pelena who is in Beijing on a year studies program attended group one plenary session.

Professor Gray indicated that According to Prof. Gray, Africa should emulate China’s amazing 70 years of development agenda to develop the continent’s labor industrials and youthful population.  He told the deluges that China is 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.

In order to help ease Africa’s economic apathy and development gape, Prof. Gray reminded the delegates that 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. He said those at the helm of leadership on the continent must be proactive, not reactive pay keen attention to Chinese innovations, industrialization, and win-win diplomacy.    “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”, Prof. Gray has indicated

The Eighth Meeting of the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum was hosted by the Secretariat of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and organized by the China Institute of International Studies at Zhejiang Normal University in collaboration with the Chines government.

The three-day intensive international research policy forum (China-Africa Think Tanks Forum) brought together more than 400 proven academics including professors, scholars, renowned researchers, senior policy-makers, ambassadors and emissaries of the African diplomatic corps in Beijing and senior media specialists representing over  50 media institutions and organizations in China. The global forum took place at the Fangfei Hall, Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.  The forum which was conducted under a unique spirit and atmosphere displayed intellectualism and academicism and, was characterized with debates, discourses, and presentations, with intellects and academic being on displaced.

The gorgeous and elegant opening ceremony was chaired by Prof. Dr. Jiang Guojun, Chairman of Zhejiang Normal University, while the official address was delivered by Mr. Chen Xiaodong, Assistant Minister of Chinese Foreign Affairs, followed by a welcoming statement by Prof. Jiang of the Zhejiang Normal University.  While the African Union Representative to China, Ambassador Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman Elnor delivered a special message on behalf of the African Union.

Other speakers at the attractive ceremony were Mr. Ruan Zongze, Executive Vice President of China Institute of International Studies; Mr.  Kimonyo Jean Paul, advisor at the Office of the President of Rwanda, Dr.  Han Hongmei, President of China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation and Prof. Dr.  Amadou Falilou Ndiaye, an established professor at the University of Dakar, Senegal.

The gorgeous ceremony was followed by two-day exhaustive plenary sessions divided into three distinguished groups based on the Forum three major topics.  The opening address of the first plenary session of Group One held at the Peony Hall of Fanghua Garden under the topic: “Jointly building a Closer Community of Shared Future between China and Africa” was delivered by the official representative of the Liberian academic realm to the 2019 China-Africa Think Tanks Forum, Professor Josephus Moses Gray, Assistant Professor of International relations at the Ibraham Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Graduate Program of International Studies of the University of Liberia.

The plenary session of group one moderator was Prof. Toure Mahamane, Director of the Center for Strategic Studies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Mali. While Group Two was topic: Aligning the Belt and Road Initiative with African union Agenda 2063”, was chaired by Prof. Joseph Alimamy Turary , Vice-Chancellor of the University of Makeni, Sierra Leone. The plenary session of Group Three held under the topic: China-Africa Think Tanks and Media Cooperation and increasing the voices of China and Africa, was chaired by Prof. Liu Hongwu, Dean of the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University.

Other speakers of the official ceremony included Mr. Liu Guijin, former Special Representative of the Chinese Government for African Affairs and former Chinese Ambassador to South Africa;  Mr. Nyamitwe Willy, senior advisor at the Office of the President of Burundi;  Prof. Wang Yiwei of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China;  Prof. Philani Mthembu, Executive Director of the Institute for Global Dialogue of South Africa; Prf. Wu Qimin, Deputy Director of International Department of the People’s Daily,  and Prof. Bouchiba Nasser, President of Africa China Cooperation Association for Development.

The various debaters’ speeches provided their ideas from different perspectives on how to fully implement the ten fundamental principles of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and AU Agenda 2063, and how to strengthen the think tanks cooperation between China and Africa, and how to integrate the Belt and Road Initiative and the AU Agenda 2063.

Professor Gray disclosed that 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.  The UL professor disclosed that China has accomplished what took developed countries hundreds of years to accomplish and become an upper-middle-income country from a low-income one, saying that 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.

In his power-point presentation which shows areas of China’s intervention on the African continent, Dr. Gray said 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, saying that  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 his presentation, Professor Gray reiterated that   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, saying that the world should assist in a peaceful, stable and constantly developing Africa.  He urged delegates to the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum to engage in intensive research in the areas of socio-economic, innovations, technological, developmental, cultural and social driven. He proposed the establishment of China-Africa think Tanks Network across Africa five regions and in the continent 55 states and the various cities in China to help strengthen and promote the BRI and FOCAC through the existing China-Africa friendship and cooperation.

Going further, Professor Gray urged Africa Union to give consideration to the establishment of AU think tanks network to help promote the AU Agenda 2063 to support the exchange of ideas in critical areas especially in the areas of leadership management and political and economic governance.  In his instructive research paper, Prof. Gray contended that if the network is established, it will undertake research and help to identify priority areas of interest. Professor Gray used the forum to provide some equilibriums of China-Liberia outstanding amazing friendship which has been a win-win situation and further discussed how China and Liberia shared similar experiences, both having suffered from aggression, plunder and enslavement by expansionism and colonization.

According to him, Liberia’s political history as concerns of democratic governance from the period of Independence to presence has experienced several difficulties resulting in several factors-both internal or external political maneuvering, and arms twisting.  He reminded his colleagues that that good development depends on good governance and unique social order depends on strong government and strong industrials, cautioning that Africa should not focus on what industrials take away but what Africa can gain from industrials for human development and general growth of the African continent.

Meanwhile, African delegates visited the People’s Daily headquarters and used the occasion to visit the paper’s online newsroom, studio, and other sections. The delegates also visited Beijing’s Urban Planning Exhibition Hall where the entire city of Beijing is put on displayed and the movie was exhibited showing how the city of Beijing was established.

The Forum received wide attention from dozens of important mainstream media from across the globe including European, America, Middle East China and Africa. There were more than 40 media outlets of 35 African countries attended and covered the conference, including Télévision Togolaise, Jornal de Angola, Gambia Radio & Television, Namibia Daily News, Agence Nigerienne de Presse, Liberia Broadcasting System, Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation, Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation, La Gazette des Comores.

The media include China Central Television, China Radio International, Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily, Guang Ming Daily, China Daily, and Chinese Social Sciences Today.  Over 100 established Chinese media outlets provided coverage of the forum while Chinese students enrolling in international studies from the various universities also attended the plenary sessions and were very active, posing thought questions to the African delegates.

At the end of the activities, the three groups consented to work towards together in harmony to build a closer China-Africa Community with a Shared Future, navigate the Belt and Road Initiative toward greater success, fully implementing the Eight Major Actions of China-Africa Cooperation, the AU Agenda 2013.

The speeches provided composed contrast to western journalists’ blustery demeanor and anti-China-Africa’s relations. The various speeches of the African scholars and academics precisely offered a sharp reaction to the global outdated, anti-China-Africa perception, and recounted the numerous benefits of the ties existing between China and Africa especially in the content socio-economic and infrastructure development and win-win cooperation.

Interestingly, the scholars used the  international podium to vehemently counter the western media anti-China-Africa propaganda and stressed the exchange ideas on promoting China-Africa cooperation in industrial capacity, infrastructure, socio-economic development and agriculture, ways of increasing the voice of Asian and African countries in the international stage, the establishment of think tanks in every African states to enhance the roles Chinese and African think tanks played in political and economic development, and the exchange of professors.

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