African communities in China hail Xi’s visit

Chinese President Xi Jinping (1st L) and his wife Peng Liyuan (2nd R) are welcomed by Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete (2nd L) and his wife Salma Kikwete (1st R) upon their arrival in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, March 24, 2013.

By Fang Ning and Zhang Jianhua

African communities in China are already speaking highly of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming trip to Africa.

“Xi’s visit shows Chinese leaders’ vision regarding Africa, and their willingness to work with Africa,” said John Rwehumbiza, president of the Tanzania Community in China.

He said Xi’s visit will further cement bilateral relations and boost them to a new level.

Xi left Beijing Friday morning for state visits to Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo. He is scheduled to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit on March 26 and 27 in South Africa.

Felly Mwamba, chief representative of African Business Freight, said the new Chinese leadership has given him the impression of being hardworking and reform-minded. “I think they will bring a new light and new mind to Africa-China relations.”

The Congo native has been living in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, for 10 years. He said he believes friendship and good dialogue are more important than trade and money in bilateral relations.

“In today’s world, China and Africa are more interdependent than ever before,” he said.

James Asare Tano, president of the Ghana Community in China, said prospects for bilateral development are good.

“China has what we need in Africa and Africa also has what China needs,” he said, adding that Africa’s rich natural resources can be developed through the help of Chinese technology and manpower.

China became Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009. In July 2012, China announced new measures to support Africa in the next three years, including providing 20 billion U.S. dollars of loans, providing training for 30,000 African personnel and offering government-sponsored scholarships to 18,000 African students.

Rwehumbiza said China and African countries have a great deal of room for deepening cooperation, especially in infrastructure construction, telecommunications, health care and real estate development.

Rewehumbiza said more than 70 percent of Africa still lacks energy, adding that the real estate sector is also underdeveloped.

“We need more than a million units of housing per year in Tanzania, but we can only build hundreds of thousands of units a year,” he said, adding that African countries are hoping for more cooperation from China.

“Many people’s perceptions toward Africa have been distorted by biased media coverage. The Chinese media can help people know more about Africa, as Africa is also struggling to learn more about China,” he said.

Sylla Cheickina, a native of the Republic of Senegal, has been living in the city of Yiwu in east China’s Zhejiang province for 10 years. He is one of 3,000 Africans who have flocked to the city to do business, as it is the country’s largest wholesale center for small commodities.

Cheickina said he hopes Xi’s visit can help the African community in China gain more attention from the local government, as Africans have had a difficult time adapting to long periods of time spent living in China.

Businessman Frank Setyi from Ghana said he hopes the high-level visit will boost cultural exchanges between China and Africa.

“China is Africa’s old friend, but there are still many cultural differences between their people. We hope China’s leaders can initiate more cultural exchanges with African countries to help bridge the gap,” he said.

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