African students, who work as volunteers at the Old Summer Palace, jump in unison in Beijing on Aug 31. XINHUA
Irivuzimana Felicien, a 29-year-old Rwandan graduate student, smiled as he helped an elderly woman use an electronic ticket on her smartphone to enter the Old Summer Palace in Beijing.
He was working as a volunteer in the palace garden. “Simple as my work is, I have learned a lot about Chinese culture and the history of this garden,” said Felicien, who is now studying for a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Beijing Jiaotong University.
Felicien is just one of many African students studying in China.
On the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which was held in Beijing from Sept 3 to 4, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to offer occupational training courses for African youths, provide a quota of 50,000 government-funded scholarships for Africa, and invite 2,000 young people from Africa to visit China. “The future of China-Africa relations lies in our young people,” Xi said.
Xi also said that China will provide $60 billion in support, including free aid, loans and special funds, for Africa’s development. “The over 1.3 billion Chinese people have been with the over 1.2 billion African people in pursuing a shared future,” Xi said.
The long-standing friendship between China and Africa dates back 600 years to the legendary travels of Chinese explorer Zheng He, whose ships reached East African shores four times. Zheng brought gifts to his African hosts and took back nothing but a few giraffes.
Today, China sees Africa as an equal partner in development and in international and regional affairs. China has remained Africa’s largest trading partner for nine years in a row, and Chinese investments in Africa have increased more than 100 times in the past 18 years. This cooperation has seen a new boom since 2013, with the Belt and Road Initiative promoting more cooperation between China and Africa.
“China follows the principle of giving more and taking less, giving before taking and giving without asking for return. With open arms, we welcome African countries aboard the express train of China’s development,” Xi said.
Xi’s words received much praise from African leaders. China-Africa cooperation is “strongly based on sincere friendship” and “mutual respect”, said Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of the Republic of the Congo.
Indeed, “with enormous goodwill and all-weather friendly cooperation with Beijing, Africa can … bring her accumulated wisdom of community resilience on board … and integrate it to the Chinese Dream of rejuvenation and jointly construct a community of shared future for all mankind,” commented The Sun News Online.