Africa values China governing experience

By He Wenping
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Global Times, July 26, 2016
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US think tank, the Brookings Institute, published an article titled "Political party training: China's ideological push in Africa?" recently, stating that "China is actively promoting this new model of China's political and economic development in Africa through political party training programs, which constitute a key component of Chinese foreign policy toward Africa."

The political party training programs have indeed become a significant part of the communication mechanism between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and African political parties, and serve as a new platform for them to share experiences of economic development and political governance.

The new trend is generated from the success of China's economic growth and social governance, which have caught the eyes of many developing countries, especially those in Africa, and inspired them to look east. The political party training programs are meant to be exchanges of experience, and China has no intention to export the "China model."

On the economic front, China has advanced and peacefully accomplished a tremendous transformation. Questions emerge among developing countries about how China can achieve such economic growth in only 30 years, and more importantly, how the ruling CPC has navigated the reform while improving its governing capacity.

The "China model" appeals to African countries, not only because it represents a new productive approach of development, but also as it offers experience in political party building and top-level governing philosophies.

For a long time, when communicating with African governments, China has been quite confident about its experience in boosting economic growth and alleviating poverty, but it seems humbled when the topics concern "democracy" or "governance." Many African countries also have blind spots when observing China, thinking that China is strong in economic transformation but weak in political reform, and even that China's economic achievements are made at the expense of political freedom.

Therefore, the political party programs and other forms of dialogue about governance-building between China and African countries can encourage China to look at the merits of its own governing philosophy. What's more, it can correct prevalent misunderstandings about China's path.

Economics and politics are a combination that cannot be dealt with separately. After the Cold War, most African countries encountered a barrage of troubles with economic restructuring and multi-party democratic systems. China's prominence in the developing world has drawn the attention of many African countries, which have learned three valuable experiences.

First, China's opening-up and reform is a comprehensive project that proceeds political, economic and social transformations simultaneously. Second, China's success should be seen as the result of finding a proper balance between reform, development and stability. Last but not the least, China's rapid development relies on a strong and effective state, an insightful leadership and correct and continuous policies.

Besides sharing experiences, political party training programs are also a platform for nurturing political elite for the future. In 2014, South Africa's ruling African National Congress decided to imitate the CPC's party school and build its own. From 2011 to 2015, China trained more than 200 young African political figures via the China-Africa Young Leaders Forum.

In the next three years, China will invite an additional 1,000 young African leaders to come to China for training; they will become the new force to boost exchanges of governing philosophies between China and African countries.

(The author is a senior research fellow of the Charhar Institute.)

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