by Apollinaire Niyirora
BUJUMBURA, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Cooperation between China and African countries, Burundi in particular, is a win-win formula despite false accusations that China is practicing neocolonialism in Africa, an expert on international relations has told Xinhua.
"The win-win policy promoted by China in Africa is real if we look at unconditional support or loans that African countries get from China," said Etienne Buregeya, a lecturer at the University of Burundi.
Buregeya said that the Chinese style of supporting African countries "far differs" from that of Western countries, whose aid or loans always come with pre-conditions.
"While it may take five years for an African country to get a loan from a Western partner because meeting requirements may take a lot of time, it can only take five days to get a loan from China because negotiations are easy," he said.
"Western countries do give their money to developing countries, but it is based on conditions which are difficult to evaluate sometimes, like gender equality," said Buregeya.
As he sees it, China provides aid or loans to any other country "without looking at its political system or interfering with its internal affairs."
The Chinese aid goes "directly to social and business sectors like the construction of schools, hospitals, hydropower dams and roads, facilities that are of vital importance to the well-being of local people," he said.
Among the Chinese-built facilities in Burundi are the Mpanda General Hospital in the country's western province of Bubanza and a teacher training school in the capital city of Bujumbura, both of which have played increasingly significant roles in improving the lives of local people.
Unlike Western countries which focus a major part of their African efforts on advocating their own values, China puts the interests of ordinary people at the center of its African policy.
"The colonization of Africa in the 1960s was characterized by all the worst forms of mistreatment and underestimation of African people, but the Chinese style is a win-win formula because Africans set their priorities and China accepts their requests," said Buregeya.
However, said the expert, technology is still an "asset" of China, arguing that China sends experts to carry out required technology while it could be possible to get local experts on the ground.
Aside from that, China tends to buy essential construction materials from its domestic suppliers for various projects in Africa, while these materials could be purchased somewhere else, "not necessarily in China," said Buregeya.
Buregeya's viewpoint on relations between China and African countries was echoed by several Bujumbura residents interviewed by Xinhua.
Richard Giramahoro said that China "does not interfere with other countries' internal policies" when providing aid or loans to them.
"They (The Chinese) don't interfere with other countries' internal affairs, but cooperate with them regardless of their political systems," said Giramahoro.