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China-Africa Institute to expand African studies

Author  :  ZHONG ZHE     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2019-04-25

The conference for the inauguration of the China-Africa Institute was convened on April 9 in Beijing. The new institute, sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), is said to be relying on CASS’s research strength and its good foundation of cooperation with Africa to facilitate research, communication, training and dissemination.

With regard to the establishment of the China-Africa Institute, Chinese and African academic circles are confident and expect it to offer ideas and suggestions for China and Africa to better dovetail their strategies and raise the level of their comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, making positive contributions to building a closer China-Africa community of shared future.

Yang Guang, a research fellow from the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies at CASS, said that the establishment of the China-Africa Institute is a response to the new need for developing China-Africa relations. The future China-Africa relationship will be in a state of great harmony, mutual support and common development.

For a long time, China has placed Africa at an important position in its overall diplomatic situation. Zhang Yonghong, director of the Center for African Studies at Yunnan University, said that the academic community needs to focus on the major issues facing China and Africa while working on ideas, proposals and programs that can reflect the stance, wisdom and common values of China and Africa.

“In recent years, the African economy has shown a good momentum of growth, which has enhanced Africa’s international status and its voice in world affairs,” said Huang Minxing, a professor from the Middle East Institute at Northwest University. Africa has an important position in the international arena, playing an increasingly important role in international politics. African studies has vital academic and practical significance. The establishment of the China-Africa Institute comes at the right time, and it has great potential for promoting African research and strengthening China-Africa cooperation in African studies.

Sun Xiaomeng, dean of the School of Asian and African Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University, noted that the establishment of the institute is of a national top-level design. It is also a platform for dialogue between China and Africa concerning knowledge and thought, which will help increase trust and dispel doubts.

The biggest advantage of the newly established institute is to integrate China’s African research strength with the high-quality resources of both Chinese and African academia and think tanks.

Sun said that China’s African research institutions should work together on multidisciplinary studies of countries and regions in Africa, covering political science, history, anthropology, economics, law, engineering and the natural sciences. For major concerns that arise in the process of China-Africa cooperation, there should be problem-oriented, cross-disciplinary joint research to provide solutions.

In terms of the interpretation of the respective development models of China and Africa along with the theory and practice of China-Africa cooperation, the establishment of the China-Africa Institute has provided important opportunities for breaking the long-term monopoly of academic discourse power possessed by the West and for building common knowledge products and discourse systems for Asian and African developing countries.

The China-Africa Institute and other African research institutions in China should work together to meet the major strategic needs of the country and collaborate on major theoretical innovations and consultations, making good use of the characteristics and advantages of various African research institutions, said He Jian, director of the Center for African Law and Development Studies at Ocean University of China.

When talking about the problems and challenges of the current all-round cooperation between China and Africa, Zhang Zhenke, director of the Institute of African Studies at Nanjing University, said that China-Africa think tank research has not done well fulfilling its function of guiding cooperation and that think tanks still have huge potential to play a more important role.

As developed countries and emerging economies adjust their policies toward cooperation with Africa, China-Africa cooperation and exchange face enormous competition, Zhang continued. In terms of dovetailing and cooperation, it is necessary to strengthen problem-oriented communication and research. It is also important to train young African research scholars.

“How to shift the focus of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation from infrastructure construction in the past to all-round industrial cooperation, and how to improve the efficiency and economic benefits of infrastructure utilization are questions worthy of sufficient consideration by both China and Africa,” Yang said, adding that compared with booming China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, there is still room for improvement in the intellectual and cultural exchanges between the Chinese and African people.



(Edited by Jiang Hong)







Editor: Yu Hui

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