A low point in China-Africa ties was the recent treatment meted out on some Africans in China’s Guangdong Province. For allegedly breaking Coronavirus prevention rules.
Fortunately, the matter was resolved after talks between Chinese officials and African diplomats concerned. The incident is a reminder of the urgent need for China and African nations to strengthen open, regular diplomatic channels to promptly deal with similar ugly occurrences in future, suggests Kimeng Hilton NDUKONG in this personal opinion.
There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Just like there can be no seamless cooperation between two parties. It is therefore normal for hiccups to occur from time to time. But when they do happen, the manner and alacrity with which they are handled, counts a lot. As this goes a long way in preempting embittered feelings that could linger on for long in the heart of the “aggrieved” party.
The April 2020 incidents involving some Africans in the city of Guangzhou, in China’s southern Guangdong Province, somewhat left a tainted Chinese image amongst Africans. The African nationals concerned were said to have failed to respect Chinese Coronavirus prevention rules. The videos of their plight, which went viral on the continent, in no small measure dealt a negative blow to the image of China amongst Africans.
Fortunately, the misunderstanding was eventually resolved. In a statement published on May 9, 2020, the official Chinese Xinhua News Agency made mention of the incidents in Guangzhou. Responding to accusations that Guangdong Provincial officials took discriminatory measures against Africans, the news agency said enhanced Coronavirus testing and control measures taken by China were for both Chinese citizens and all foreign nationals. “The purpose is to protect public health and people’s wellbeing,” Xinhua stated.
“However, a few isolated incidents that occurred in this process due to miscommunication or misunderstanding have been timely and properly handled through close communication between the relevant Chinese authorities and diplomatic officials of the African countries concerned,” Xinhua clarified. Now that the matter has been put to rest, it is important for both sides to maintain open and regular communication channels. In order to nib in the bud in future any such ugly incident about to raise its head.
China and Africa have come a long way. Very long way indeed. By always standing by one another. Therefore, nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of their strong cooperation. Such good ties at the level of countries must also be reflected at the individual level. This is more so as the world has since become a global village. With increasing numbers of people leaving their homelands each year to seek better lives in foreign lands.
It is also the case with thousands of Chinese living and working in Africa. On the other hand, thousands of Africans make their living directly or indirectly through commercial exchanges with China. Not to mention the thousands of Africans studying in China on Chinese scholarships or private sponsorship. Or working there. What of intermarriages between Chinese and Africans? These marriages are contracted in Africa as well as in China.
And so the bonds of friendship and cooperation between Africa and China are continuously being strengthened. It is therefore in the interest of both sides and peoples to ensure that these friendly cooperation ties grow. In leaps and bounds. Instead of falling into a lull. For, everyone stands to benefit enormously. Be they national economies, through increased Gross Domestic Product, GDP. Or private family incomes through remittances.
Kimeng Hilton NDUKONG, a journalist based in Yaounde, Cameroon, is a contributor to People’s Daily English Language Online Desk. He is a 2017 Fellow of the China-Africa Press Centre.
Mimi Mefo Info