When the US fired the first salvo in the trade war with China, 380 scholars representing China-Africa thinktanks were gathered in the sumptuous Diaoyutai State Guest House under the spotlights of 25 TV stations in Beijing to discuss how to increase African and Asian voices on the international scene and how their institutions could be effective in enhancing co-operation between China and Africa.
The exchanges showed that the West had lost the hearts and minds of Africans. Expectations were high among the visitors; the Belt and Road Initiative was perceived as an Eldorado and not as predatory, that had already created magnificent infrastructures and industries that were witnessing double digit rate of growth in a continent that despite the massive aid of the West and its McDonald outlets, supported by McDonald Douglas, debts have been soaring to 100% of GDP.
After a visit to the technology park, the participants shared the view that by targeting 5G networks, cybersecurity, robotics, aerospace, ocean engineering, bullet trains, electric vehicles, new materials, AI and biomedicine, China is a high-tech powerhouse on a par with, or even surpassing, the US and the EU.
The Africans were not bothered by the hysteria of Donald Trump whom they saw as a drunk cowboy firing at every moving object. The July Beijing meeting is a prelude to the high level Foreign Ministers gathering when China will sign with African nations bilateral development deals. In the meantime, Mauritian politicians were squabbling about whether to join or not join the Chinese train of development. I hope some good sense will prevail in our decision. The Western dogs will bark and the China-Africa caravan will proceed unmoved and undisturbed.