China has been leading a global economic renaissance in the past few decades, and is now sharing its expertise to business leaders from Africa through China Beijing International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS). It's a process that is deepening the country's commitment to the continent which has become a crucial trade partner, according to observers.
The Fifth CIFTIS, held in China National Convention Center in Beijing from May 28 to June 1, enables attending countries to showcase their trade markets and seek investment opportunities among participants.
During the five day event this year, officials from African embassies, business leaders and representatives from the private sector gathered to present and discuss economic issues pertaining to the service development between China and Africa.
Areas of focus included how China could cooperate with countries related to the Belt and Road Initiative in service industry development and ways African countries could benefit. This year, CIFTIS focused on six major service fields: science and technology, the Internet and information technology, culture and education, finance, business, and tourism and health care.
In his opening remarks, Chen Tao, Council Member of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, made reference to an African proverb, "If you want to help other people, it's better to teach them how to fish rather than to give them fish directly." Chen said, adding that CIFTIS is not only a platform which allows Sino-African exchanges, but also devoted to addressing issues and ideas pertaining to economic development and exploring the best investment opportunities and options.
Chen pointed out that the relations between China and Africa is blooming, and that both China and the continent should take advantage of the economic ties in order to increase development. He highlighted the fact that the African population is estimated to be 1.3 billion, with its economy growing rapidly over the past few years.
"Although the African market is not yet as developed as China's market, it has a high potential for economic growth," said Chen, adding that China has experienced rapid economic growth over the past years and is now the world's second largest economy.
Against this backdrop, China is willing to assist African countries in development. "China has its own ways of driving its economic growth and is trying to find ways to assist Africa to develop its own growth models," he said, suggesting that current Sino-African relations should not only exist on a government to government level, but should also extend to the private sector, cities and individuals. In the past, China's fast economic development has opened opportunities to many African countries.
Chen said that this year, China has signed a series of free trade agreements and cooperation deals with different countries, including Mozambique and South Africa. China has also helped built ports in countries such as Zambia, South Africa, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Chen reiterated that if there is no commerce and industry, the economy cannot grow at all. China is cooperating with six African countries to develop their infrastructure, including railways, ports and other transport facilities.