By Mei Jingya, Sina English
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has started an 11-day tour of Africa in Senegal’s capital, Dakar on Wednesday. She urged African leaders to embrace partnerships with “responsible foreign powers” as a means to improving their living standards, which is widely considered a veiled attack on China.
Dakar was the first stop on an 11-day Africa tour for Secretary Clinton. Speaking to university students, lawmakers and diplomats in Senegal's capital, she tried desperately to convince African leaders know the difference between deals made with the United States and those made with China.
“The days of having outsiders come and extract the wealth of Africa for themselves, leaving nothing or very little behind, should be over in the 21st century," she was quoted as saying.
Underlying her message was a challenge to China’s increasing influence on the continent.
Clinton also acknowledged that U.S. policies haven’t always lined up with its principles. But she said Washington wants to build relationships that are not “transactional or transitory,” and are built on “values”.
China surpassed the United States in 2009 to become Africa’s largest trading partner. Chinese aid and investment in Africa have also grown rapidly, and as always, China’s aid to Africa is unconditional.
Chinese officials announced last month that some 2,000 Chinese companies now have dealings in Africa, with investments totaling US$14.7 billion - an increase of 60 percent in two years.
Observers say Clinton’s speech was meant to turn African countries against China so that the U.S. can benefit economically by driving a wedge between the traditional friends among the developing world.
Unfortunately, Clinton’s move would possibly backfire, even if she is doing the utmost, lobbying around, to reaffirm her stand before departure in November.
Back in July, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Fourth Conference of Chinese and African Entrepreneurs that the friendly cooperation between China and Africa has not only yielded rich fruit, but also enhanced friendship and mutual trust, which is more precious than gold.
"History has shown time and again that China and Africa are forever good friends, good partners and good brothers," Premier Wen said.
China-Africa friendship is embedded in the long history of interchange. Sharing similar historical experience, China and Africa have all along sympathized with and supported each other in the struggle for national liberation and forged a profound friendship.
The founding of the People's Republic of China and the independence of African countries ushered in a new era in China-Africa relations. For over half a century, the two sides have enjoyed close political ties and frequent exchanges of high-level visits and people-to-people contacts.
Bilateral trade and economic cooperation have grown rapidly; cooperation in other fields has yielded good results; and consultation and coordination in international affairs have been intensified. China has provided assistance to the best of its ability to African countries, while African countries have also rendered strong support to China on many occasions.
Sincerity, equality and mutual benefit, solidarity and common development - these are the principles guiding China-Africa exchanges and cooperation and the driving force to lasting China-Africa relations.