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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Beyond trade and infrastructure projects: The next frontier of Chinese influence in Africa

BEIJING, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Experts said Tuesday that cultural and academic exchanges between China and Africa are conducive to the development of cooperation.

Joao Manuel Bernardo, Angola's ambassador to China and acting dean of the African diplomatic corps, said Africa and China were on the right track for better understanding between their peoples and the sharing of development experience with the launch of the China-Africa joint research and exchange program.

The launch ceremony of the program was held in Beijing Tuesday, with about 100 diplomats and scholars from China and African countries present.

As part of the eight new measures announced by the Chinese government at the 4th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Egypt in November last year, the program, aimed at expanding people-to-people and cultural exchanges, will enable scholars and think tanks to increase exchanges and cooperation, share development experience, and provide intellectual support for improving cooperation policies.

It would cover domestic and international seminars on China-Africa cooperation, joint monographic studies and research, and the publication of works on China-Africa relations. A board of government officials and scholars is expected to head the implementation of the program.

China's ambassador on FOCAC affairs, Qiu Bohua, said Chinese and African scholars could work together for detailed planning and suggestions on sustainable development of cooperation under the program.

Executive vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Wang Weiguang said China-Africa cultural and academic exchanges, which could eliminate misunderstandings caused by cultural and language differences, were essential to the healthy and comprehensive development of China-Africa relations.

Wang raised a proposal on cooperation between Chinese and African think tanks and scholars, which included facilitating visits, convening seminars and publishing joint studies, to recruit more African students and invite African scholars to teach at the CASS.

Lesotho's Ambassador to China, Anthony Rachobokoane Thibeli, said, the implementation of the program would allow the African and Chinese people to communicate more openly and pave the way for cooperation.

To learn more about China-Africa Cooperation http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/zflt/eng/

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