Peace cooperation brings optimism to the Middle East and Africa

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The construction site of the Central Business District (CBD) of Egypt’s new administrative capital is being built by China State Construction Engineering Corporation, Jan. 4, 2020./Xinhua

The construction site of the Central Business District (CBD) of Egypt’s new administrative capital is being built by China State Construction Engineering Corporation, Jan. 4, 2020./Xinhua

Publisher’s Note: Hamzah Rifaat Hussain, a former visiting fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington and a former research fellow at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute, is a television presenter at Indus News in Pakistan. The article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of CGTN.

Several rounds of talks were held in countries in the Middle East and Africa, leading to an increase in Chinese investment and meaningful, forward-looking cooperation. Countries like Morocco, Egypt, Kenya and Djibouti are benefiting from initiatives such as digital capacity building and infrastructure building that can herald a brighter future for both regions amid economic uncertainty.

For years, the Middle East and parts of Africa have borne the brunt of internal unrest, domestic unrest, regime change and transnational terrorism. As a result, despite vast petroleum reserves, resources and tourism prospects, growth potential has often been hampered by continued uncertainty.

With the crisis raging in Ukraine and Western diplomacy unable to resolve the unsolvable impasse with Russia, countries in the Middle East and Africa have chosen meaningful bilateral cooperation to improve their livelihoods and resilient economies in the face of global supply chain disruptions and economic shocks build up. There’s a lot to look forward to.

In North Africa, China-Egypt cooperation is set to reach new heights with a shared determination to invest in digital capacity building and information technology. Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang spoke about how practical cooperation between the two sides has intensified over the years, with an unshakable level of trust pervading bilateral ties.

Similarly, in Morocco, a convergence of views on global conflicts also emerged between Beijing and Rabat, as both the Chinese government’s special envoy for the Middle East issue, Zhai Jun, and the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Africa Cooperation and Expatriates, Nasser Bourita, mentioned. Note that both countries took similar positions with the understanding that alliance politics will be a zero-sum game in a polarized environment.

An aluminum wheel factory of CITIC Dicastal Co., Ltd., at Kenitra Atlantic Free Zone in Kenitra, Morocco, June 26, 2019. /Xinhua

An aluminum wheel factory of CITIC Dicastal Co., Ltd., at Kenitra Atlantic Free Zone in Kenitra, Morocco, June 26, 2019. /Xinhua

Bilaterally, Chinese investment in Morocco has skyrocketed since it became the first North African country to join the Belt and Road Initiative in January 2022. In addition, according to then-vice chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission Ning Jizhe, investments in Morocco dealing with mobile phone parts, telecommunications and fisheries have reached US$380 million, which is further evidence of how economic Cooperation based on neutrality and trust can pay off.

Apolitical cooperation is gaining resonance in regions that have a history of severe internal unrest such as violence during and after the 2011 Libyan civil war. Repeated American interventions in the internal affairs of sovereign states prolonged conflicts only in the absence of peaceful settlements, which in turn impeded economic growth.

This year, however, there is a concerted effort to end the persistent conflicts in such regions, as witnessed at the eight-person East Africa Peace Conference. By promoting security, development and governance as top priorities, many of the problems faced by states with turbulent histories can be alleviated, as noted by Chinese special envoy for Horn of Africa affairs Xue Bing.

In addition, the construction of ports and railways aims to promote universal prosperity without discord, conflict and war, while sending engineers and scientists to countries like Djibouti and Kenya. All of this is happening in Africa with permissiveness, as noted by Professor Liselotte Odgaard of the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies, also a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, who said China would adhere to a policy of non-interference and allow Africans to choose their own path .

In the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian question is one of the lingering problems that successive US administrations have repeatedly failed to resolve. The security dynamics resulting from the crisis have hampered investment, threatened sustainable peace and encouraged disruption.

This year, Zhai Jun met Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Cairo and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, urging both Israelis and Palestinians to resume dialogue on a two-state solution in the Israel-China Parliamentary Friendship Group record.

According to Benjamin Barton, assistant professor at the University of Nottingham campus in Malaysia, such measures represent proactive approaches to promoting peace with the guiding principles of non-interference and neutrality. Such measures also complement the immense trade potential that exists in the region, as evidenced in Uptrends in investments such as construction contracts between China and the region, which peaked at 360 percent and 116 percent, according to a report by the Green Finance and Development Center at Fudan University.

With such promising trends, efforts to ensure lasting peace and an improved economy, the potential for generating large dividends for the Middle East and Africa is high. The rule is that solid relationships without political interference always promise a bright future.

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