Youth foundation of community with shared future for mankind

Tichaona Zindoga

Correspondent

CLOSE to a decade ago, Zimbabwean youths from diverse backgrounds, including media, civil society, academia and politics were invited to China for a two-legged summit of young leaders from Africa and China at the inaugural Asia-Africa Youth Festival in 2016.

The programme was part of China’s networking platforms for youth from the Global South, and it also exposed them to history and developments in China; its rapid progress through opening up and reform programmes and the growth of its industrial value chains. 

Another key aspect in the eye-opening visit, was exposure to Chinese culture through food, music, dance and intangible cultural heritage. 

From a Zimbabwean standpoint, the tour was not just an example of good relations between China and Africa, but also the strategic nature of such engagements and its massive potential and many have since followed. 

This bears a little illustration, using the most prominent examples: two of the participants on the above-mentioned tour by the Zimbabwean delegation, Brian Mudumi, then a youth activist; and Happymore Chidziva, then an opposition youth leader, have since become Members of the House of Assembly and happily sit together today making laws as legislators in the Chinese-built New Parliament in Zimbabwe.

The two have also become friends. There are some in that delegation that achieved leadership positions in academia and media. 

These stories of Zimbabwean uniting and fostering bonds of friendship united by China and going beyond to make friends with others from Africa and China itself, reveal the true essence of the concept of community with a shared future for mankind” propounded by President Xi Jinping in 2013.

The idea postulates that “the future of each and every nation and country is interlocked”, and expounds a number of economic, political and social frameworks to guide relations to achieve a harmonious future for mankind.

It was in 2015 that President Xi proposed that China would hold an Asian-African Youth Festival in the next five years starting in 2016, and invite 2 000 young people from Asia and Africa to participate.

Since then, with the participation of Zimbabwe, people-to-people exchanges have been thriving and fostering lasting bonds and potentially life-changing networks. 

Events across a diverse range of areas, including the China-Africa Youth Festival, Think Tank Forum, Joint Research and Exchange Programme, Poverty Reduction and Development Conference, and the China-Africa Press Centre, have been successful. And the China-Africa Institute has already been inaugurated. 

As at 2020, China had provided about 120 000 government scholarships to African countries, set up 61 Confucius Institutes and 46 Confucius Classrooms in collaboration with 46 African countries, sent 21 000 doctors and nurses in medical teams to 48 African countries, treating around 220 million African patients, and forged 150 pairs of sister cities. All these efforts have consolidated popular support for China-Africa friendship. 

According to Xue Mengchen, a Chinese journalist in an article, “Connecting the dreams of youth and writing a new chapter of China-Africa friendship is always the theme of the China-Africa Youth Festival. Chinese and African young people are all involved in a series of exchange activities, in which they share their views and their dreams.”

China Soong Ching Ling Foundation former Chairman Wang Jiarui is quoted as saying, “Youth is the force that accelerates history towards a better world.” 

It has been thus argued that with more opportunities to communicate, Chinese and African young people will make new contributions to the construction of the Community of Shared Future for Mankind. 

Future opportunities and dimensions 

Every year, Zimbabwean youths from across various backgrounds go to China for exchange programmes as well as scholarship opportunities. 

At the same time, youths are taking advantage of business opportunities in China where a number of products are produced, and this has created wealth and livelihoods while contributing to economic globalisation. 

At the same time, there are exciting developments whereby Chinese companies with interests in Zimbabwe are sending young Chinese workers and administrators to work here, which has resulted in more understanding and co-operation.

Still a number of opportunities exist as Africa and China co-operate and forge ever growing relations in the context of global community of a shared future. 

Through the creation of quality brand projects and activities, several projects and activities have become popular and attracted widespread public participation. 

Examples include the Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Cultural Expo, the Great Wall International Folk Culture and Arts Festival, the Silk Road International Arts Festival, the Maritime Silk Road International Arts Festival, the Belt and Road Youth Story and the Tea Road Cultural Tourism Expo.

A signature programme, the Chinese Youth Global Partnership has received a positive response from all over the world, according to Chinese authorities. 

 More than 100 national youth organisations and international organisations have established ties and co-operative relations with China.

In the context of China-Africa relations and through platforms such as the Forum on China–Africa Co-operation (Focac), there are a number of projects such as infrastructure connectivity projects, integration of industrial and supply chains, agricultural modernisation and industrialisation, which benefit African youths. 

 With youths joining hands, and inspired by the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind, a number of prospects beckon for win-win outcomes, as well as helping shape the new global order.

Ruzivo Media & Resource Centre Trust is a registered think tank that analyses and creates platforms for the discussion of global and local issues, with focus on creating understanding and leading thinking on innovative solutions and knowledge.

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