By Geoff Lemon
Will and Sunny discuss the latest International Conference in Beijing.
Sunny: Hey, Will! What’re you doing tonight?
Will: Hello, Sunny! I was going to invite you over to watch TV, but the only thing on the air these days seems to be news of the Summit meeting.
Sunny: What Summit meeting?
Will: Oh, come on! Surely you’ve heard about this “Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.”
Sunny: Ah yes, that big China-Africa thing. What’s that all about anyway.
Will: To tell you the truth, I think it is part of China’s long-term strategic economic planning.
Sunny: Hey...slow down — you UIBE guys are all the same — you see everything in terms of economic jargon. What’s it mean in plain language.
Will: Hee hee, sorry Sunny, I forgot that you were a Literature major. Let me see...it’s like this — China is a growing world economy, and Africa is largely undeveloped. In fact, China shares a lot in common with many of the African states.
Sunny: But Africa has a lot of resources, right?
Will: You’ve got it. But there’s not been a dynamic or coordinated approach to improving the African countries. And the other thing is that those countries have also seen how China has advanced so quickly in recent years —so they want to find out the secret to developing their own countries too.
Sunny: Well, we have a lot of expertise in that area. Doesn’t China also provide a lot of aid to Africa?
Will: Correct. And the aid it provides is without ties. It’s really a brilliant investment strategy.
Sunny: There you go again. What do you mean by “investment strategy.”
Will: Well, you called it aid, but I call it an investment, because the kind of development works that China is carrying on in Africa have a really long-term benefit — both for the developing African countries as well as for China. The aid projects are helping to streamline local economies, develop key industries, and provide employment.
Sunny: And you think that China stands to benefit from that kind of investment?
Will: Sure. These countries are eager to have friendly development, to soak up unemployment and to have reliable markets for their goods and resources. Plus, it opens their economies to direct investment by Chinese companies and individuals. Everybody wins!
Sunny: So that’s what it’s all about, huh?
Will: Well, no. There are some interesting political spin-offs too.
Sunny: Like what?
Will: Well, one obvious benefit is that hosting such a forum boosts China’s own political stature. But the other great value is that, the forum provides a meeting place where all of the African Heads of State can meet calmly and peacefully to discuss areas of mutual concern — including social and political matters.
Sunny: Well that’s all very well for world harmony but this Forum is rocking my local harmony.
Will: What do you mean?
Sunny: Have you tried to catch a taxi lately? And when you do manage to find one — they often cost a fortune.
Sunny: Because the police are blocking intersections all over town while these African hot-shots are in town — just so that they can have a police escort to their favourite restaurant!
Will: Ha ha. Well a couple of days discomfort isn’t too bad for the promise of long-term peace, is it? Anyway, it’s not all bad — It got us tickets for a great African band playing in town tomorrow night.
Sunny: Ahh... sounds great. But we better go by subway.
Sunny: I told you! There’s so many Africans in town you can’t get a taxi!