4TH CHINA-AFRICA THINK TANKS FORUM (CATTF-IV)*
8 September 2015
Joel Netshitenzhe, Executive Director (MISTRA)
NEW TRENDS IN AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT AND PARTNERSHIP WITH CHINA
This China-Africa Think Tanks Forum once again affords partners in the think industry the opportunity to share ideas on issues pertinent to the improvement of the human condition.
It is this humane underpinning to the relationship between China and the African continent that makes this partnership unique: that commerce, diplomacy and other engagements are but means to an end and not an end in themselves. In this context, there is potentially something truly profound and humane in this evolving partnership.
This, however, depends on societal agency: day-by-day and in practice demonstrating positive outcomes from conscious application.
I wish to join the other speakers, in thanking the organisers; and in identifying a few principles that may warrant consideration in the discussions.
The first principle is about the objective circumstances which lend this relationship its natural character.
It has so happened that Africa came to be characterised by, and balkanised according to, the notion of ‘spheres of influence’. In the global mind-set, perhaps including ours as Africans, an imaginary umbilical cord seems to tie the continent to the erstwhile colonial powers. Yet precolonial history demonstrates active trade and other relations between Asia and parts of Africa, a natural consequence of geography. Today’s trends are merely a reassertion of a historical relationship to which colonialism was but a treacherous interregnum.
The second principle is about the resurgence of an ancient civilisation. How a people can think, plan and act, transcending the narrow confines of the humiliations of colonial subjugation is an instructive lesson for the African continent. As we reflect on Africa’s Agenda 2063, the fundamental question is how African leaders and peoples can embrace and take pride in their own history – self-critically acknowledging their own mistakes, and harnessing their cultures and philosophies as platforms for social progress in the modern world.
* This paper was presented by Joel Netshitenzhe on 9th September 2015 at the 4th meeting of the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum (CATTF IV) hosted by MISTRA in partnership with The Department of International Relations and Cooperation and Zhejiang Normal University.
The China-Africa Think Tanks Forum is part of the FOCAC Sub-Forums that were first established on the sidelines of the FOCAC Summit in 2006. The purpose of the CATTF IV is to create a platform for dialogue and exchanges between Chinese and African think-tanks, nurture long-term cooperation and encourage academic exchanges among the academia of China and Africa.
The opening session was addressed by the Heads of Institutions, Prof Jiang Guojun, President of Zhejiang Normal University, and Mr Joel Netshitenzhe, Executive Director of MISTRA, amongst others. A number of panel discussions took place following the opening session, focussing on topics related to the African Union's Agenda 2063 and the United Nations' Post-2015 Development Agend