United for Development
Developed countries have a binding responsibility to help the developing world and bridge the gap between the South and the North. Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged developed countries to honor their development aid commitments and increase support to developing nations with no political strings attached.
Xi was addressing the Asian African Summit 2015 in Jakarta, Indonesia, attended by leaders and representatives from almost 100 countries and international organizations, on April 22. At the summit, which seeks to carry on the Bandung spirit and promote the common development of Asia and Africa, Xi laid out Beijing's initiatives. He said South-North cooperation should be based on mutual respect and equality.
During his Indonesia tour, Xi also traveled to the heritage city of Bandung, West Java, to attend events marking the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference, the first large-scale gathering of Asian and African countries.
In 1955, representatives from 29 Asian and African countries and regions gathered in Bandung to discuss independence, peace and economic prosperity.
Technology Empowers Farmers
More than 8,000 Ghanaian cocoa farmers are benefiting from CocoaLink, a mobile technology service which delivers timely farming, social and marketing information to cocoa farmers in 15 communities in west Ghana. Cocoa farmers who subscribe to CocoaLink receive and share practical information via short message service texts and voice messages with industry experts and other farmers. It is available to any Ghanaian with a cellphone, with messages delivered in English or the local language.
Trade Environment Improved
Investments in trade infrastructure and the removal of bureaucratic and procedural barriers to economic integration have positioned the East African region as the destination of choice for doing business, according to a study published recently by the TradeMark East Africa, a donor-funded organization formed to help regional states speed up integration. The study said the harmonization of product standards has expanded the East African Community (EAC) trade basket. Investments in key ports have resulted in reduced cargo transit times on East Africa's main transport corridors, and accelerated implementation of the EAC's Single Customs Territory.
High Speed Rail Connection
Kenya's Standard Gauge Railway Project will meet the set completion deadline of 2017, according to Kenya Railways. A statement from the company said the government is keen to ensure the project is completed with the required quality and standards within the agreed timelines. To achieve this, the company has contracted a consultant to review the preliminary and detailed designs and supervise construction. The railway is being constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corp.
Measures to Sustain Growth
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has pledged more flexible fiscal measures to sustain growth as the economy faces a difficult point of transition. In mid-April, he delivered a candid view of the economic performance in the first quarter of the year, which is likely to have witnessed the slowest growth since 2009. He summed up the situation saying, "New dynamics have yet to grow strong while the old are losing steam." To overcome a temporary shortage of economic-growth drivers, the central authorities will continue to lead more government investment projects, design policies targeting specific industries and regions, and increase the supply of public projects and services, Li said.
Soil Rescue Plan
The excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides is worsening agricultural pollution in China, said Vice Minister of Agriculture Zhang Taolin in April as the country's agricultural authority launched a five-year action program to curb rural pollution. Zhang said that the pollution caused by excessive use of fertilizers is increasing in the country's central and eastern areas.
"The problem is more severe in areas cultivating fruits and vegetables as those areas have expanded in recent years," he said. The Ministry of Agriculture said the program is targeting more than 90 percent of China's farmland that use formulated fertilizers. It will implement soil tests to determine how much and what type of fertilizers are needed.
Inclusive Silk Road
Chinese officials reiterated on April 16 that the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives will be "open" to all nations and are not limited by geography.
"The initiatives are open to all and countries that are interested in the initiatives can participate in them. What China has offered is only the vision," said Ou Xiaoli, Deputy Director General of the Department of Western Region Development at the National Development and Reform Commission. Recent reports had indicated that about 60 countries are so far involved in the "Belt and Road" initiatives. This had led to confusion about the participation policy and whether there was an official list of partner countries. Ou said that although the initiatives include three potential routes from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, they remain inclusive in nature.
Veterans Hail AIIB
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are ready to cooperate with China and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the World Bank Group president and the head of the IMF said in April. "I suspect that in the early period we'll play a much larger role in project preparation because we have much more technical expertise than the AIIB has right now," said Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President. He added that the World Bank is waiting for articles of agreement or a constitution naming the areas where the AIIB will invest to engage with it. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the AIIB is a most welcome institution with which the IMF plans to cooperate.
Evaluate Education System
A plan that will enable China to evaluate its compulsory education system was launched in April, with experts saying it will assist in policymaking and promote education levels across the country. The plan, drawn up by the State Council's Education Supervision and Guidance Committee, is designed to test the academic performance and physical and mental health of junior middle school and primary school students. It will also examine factors that affect their performance and health.
"We have been unable, for a long time, either to evaluate the standard of our compulsory education system or to analyze the problems that exist because of the lack of statistics," said He Xiuchao, Director of the Supervision and Guidance Office of the Ministry of Education. "The implementation of the plan will enable us to do so."
Deeper Aviation Cooperation
greements with 23 African nations by 2014, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Eight African airlines started services to China, with 52 flights scheduled every week. China will also provide African countries with 100 scholarships on aviation study, said Wang Zhiqing, Deputy Administrator of CAAC. In April, the Aviation Industry Corp. of China delivered two of China's domestic-made Xinzhou-60 aircraft to Cameroon, the second batch after 2012, while South Africa has signed a deal to purchase 10 Xiaoying-500s. Flag carrier Air China plans to start flights between Beijing and Johannesburg in June, three times a week. Flights linking Beijing and Addis Ababa will begin in October.