China’s key policy principles ensure success of the Belt and Road Initiative in Africa

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) marks its 10th anniversary this year since it was proposed by H.E.President Xi Jinping of China in 2013. The BRI aimed at opening up new solid and strong economic partnership between China and other countries, especially developing nations.

The BRI is a symbolic commitment of China to help the countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, including the majority of African countries, to achieve their potential in economic development by exploiting their abundant natural resources and youthful labor force. The BRI puts China again in the centre of African countries’ drive for economic liberation, and safeguarding their natural resources from the traditional exploitation by the developed nations, which has left the African continent poor, while those developed nations rich.

Commitment and strong friendship between China and East African countries has been built by China’s view on Africa as more of economic partners which China need to share interests through mutually beneficial cooperation, not viewing them as a problem which needs to be solved through inconsistent aid and conditional loans.

The principles that were put forward by President Xi Jinping on China’s Africa policy are sincerity, real results, affinity, and good faith, as well as pursuing the greater good and shared interests. These principles serve as the conceptual basis of China-Africa cooperation under the framework of the BRI.

First, “sincerity and equality” remain at the core of China’s cooperation with Africa. China treats African countries with respect, love and support. It has never meddled in the exploration by African people for a development path that is in line with their national conditions, never interfered in African countries’ internal affairs, never imposed its will on others, never attached any political conditions to its aid, and never had any political agenda in its investment or financing of the development projects in Africa. Therefore, China will always remain a sincere friend and reliable partner for the African nations. For instance, China has been a true friend of Tanzania for almost six decades, despite disparity in the economic size.

Second, “affinity and good faith”. China takes the right approach to justice and interests by putting justice before interests. For China, friendship is more valuable than gold. It is willing to give more, to give first, and even to give without take, in order to benefit African countries in cooperation. The same was true when in the early 1970s China assisted Tanzania and Zambia in building the TAZARA to solve their transport problems and stimulate the growth of these two countries’ economy. Even to date, China has been providing loans and aid for infrastructure and power generation projects in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the rest of Africa, which are vital for the development of these nations.

Third, “pursuing the greater good and shared interests”. China believes that development is the absolute principle, and it is the key to solving all problems. Development is the most important human rights and the greatest democracy for the African people, whom for centuries were exploited and underdeveloped through colonialism and slavery. Therefore, China welcomes African countries to take the express train of its own development, and is willing to continue to support Africa with funds, technology and experience so that Africa can benefit more and develop faster.

Fourth, “real results”. In jointly building the Belt and Road with African countries, China has always adhered to the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. The adoption and implementation of the BRI is to put into practice the concept of win-win cooperation, by allowing African countries access Chinese technologies and financial support, while at the same time facilitating China’s access to the rich natural resources and youthful labor force of Africa. By directly investing in African countries and processing agricultural goods and raw materials in Africa, greater economic benefits will be generated for African governments and people.

Tanzania is a bridgehead in East Africa and China’s important partner in Belt and Road cooperation. For the past 10 years, Tanzania and China has taken connectivity of infrastructure as an important direction of cooperation and achieved fruitful results. Some of the key projects include the expansion and upgrading of Dar es Salaam port, the construction of the new Msalato airport in Dodoma, Kigongo-Busisi Bridge (also known as J.P. Magufuli Bridge), Lot Five of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), etc.

Recently, I got a chance to visit two key BRI projects in Tanzania, namely the Kigongo-Busisi Bridge and Lot Five of the SGR. The Kigongo-Busisi Bridge is the flag bearer project in the lake zone with connectivity and economic potential not only for the lake region of Tanzania, but for Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, D.R. Congo and Kenya. It will facilitate access of Kenyan manufacturers to the markets in D.R. Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. More importantly, this project allows the transfer of expertise and technology from the Chinese contractor CCECC to more than 1,000 local technicians and skilled workers who have been employed to implement the project.

Lot Five of the SGR stretches from Isaka in Shinyanga Region to Mwanza, which connects the main railway line from Dar es salaam to the lake zone. This project is not only a vivid reflection of the importance of the BRI to Tanzania, by a symbol of immense friendship between Tanzania and China. It involves the transfer of Chinese technologies to Tanzania through such workshops as the railway sleeper plant located at Kishapu, Shinyanga which is mainly operated by Tanzanians.

The implementation of the BRI in East Africa has brought notable successes not only in infrastructure development, but also in safeguarding peace and security. The main idea of the BRI is to enhance connectivity, and its main purpose is to achieve win-win cooperation between China and the partner countries.

China has participated in the UN peacekeeping missions in South Sudan and the D.R. Congo. The Chinese blue helmets in South Sudan have not only saved the country from plunging into a more chaotic situation and becoming another Somali, but preserved its vital natural resources, such as oil fields and installations, which are essential for economic recovery of the country and improvement of its people’s livelihood. It helps to contain the conflicts and create room for a negotiated settlement between relevant parties.

Furthermore, China’s involvement in the peace and security issues of East Africa prevents the conflict from spilling over to neighbouring countries in the region, thereby creating a favorable environment for the implementation of the BRI. The preservation of peace and security in South Sudan by China’s blue helmets has contributed to the sustainable development of all East African countries, as “there will be no development without peace”.

Lastly, the BRI will be an essential initiative for African countries to attain the long-desired economic liberation and ending the decade-long exploitation of their natural resources by the West which have left these countries poor, and most of them has plunged into chaos and civil unrest due to over exploitation by the multinationals.

(The writer is a political and economic analyst based in Dar es Salaam. Email:


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