Chinese experts propose India-China-Africa trilateral at Haikou conference
Amid attempts by the West to project India and China as rivals in Africa, Chinese scholars have proposed trilateral cooperation between New Delhi, Beijing and the African continent which could include dialogues between their policy makers and academics.
'India, China and Africa have similar economic and political interests. A trilateral cooperation mechanism will contribute to international peace, stability and prosperity,’ said Africa Study Centre Director Li Rong at the influential China Institute for Contemporary International Relations.
She was speaking at an international conference that has brought together Chinese, Indian and African experts in Haikou city to explore the prospects of cooperation and competition between India and China in Africa.
'A trilateral mechanism will have far-reaching strategic significance and will bring an equilibrium in the world,’ Li said.
'The trilateral cooperation could bring greater opportunity for Africa,’ she said while underlining that the entry of India and China in Africa has transformed the cooperation model in the continent.
Ma Jiali, Research Professor at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, added: ‘India and China are building upon their historic ties with Africa to expand their economic and political relations with the continent.
'India has positioned itself as a rising economic power to promote its development and that of Africa. China is also expanding its relations with Africa in all areas,’ said the Chinese expert who is considered close to the Beijing establishment.
'There may be competition between India and China in Africa, but there is no rivalry,’ he added.
The conference is organised by the Hainan Institute for World Watch, a Haikou-based think tank. Haikou is the capital of the southern island of Hainan, the province of seven million people which is morphing into an economic powerhouse.
While admitting that competition is inevitable between the rising Asian powers in Africa, Liu Weicai of the African Study Centre at Shanghai Normal University said Chinese companies can use Indian firms which are more deeply rooted in Africa for expertise and guidance on procedures.
Liu suggested that India and China should consider sending their representatives at each other’s summit with Africa to build greater trust for working together in the continent.
The idea of trilateral cooperation emanating from Chinese experts come against the backdrop of India launching a dialogue with the US and Japan for cooperation in Africa. Beijing sees this as a move to contain its rising profile in the 54-nation continent.
Over the last decade, India and China have dramatically scaled up trade and developmental cooperation with Africa, a region where Western players traditionally dominated.
Although the US remains the largest trading partner of Africa, China’s bilateral trade with the continent has exceeded $110 billion.
India’s bilateral trade with Africa is estimated at around $48 billion, with both sides planning to scale it up to $70 billion by 2015.
A section of the West has tried to portray India and China as rivals for Africa’s resources and markets — a scenario rejected by New Delhi and Beijing.
India has distinguished its development-centric engagement model from that of China, which is seen to be more focused on oil diplomacy and infrastructure projects.
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