Pretoria – Africa and China’s youth have vowed to continue making a positive impact and strengthen relations based on mutual trust, solidarity and coordination for the benefit of both countries.
They want to see stronger bonds of friendship, an enlightened understanding of cultures and a commitment to work towards a more just and peaceful world.
This was the overriding message at the end of the second Africa-China Youth Festival, which was held in Pretoria on Wednesday.
The closing session of the three-day festival was co-chaired by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong as well as Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Buti Manamela.
The festival coincided with the South Africa-China High-Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism (PPEM). Inaugurated on Monday, the PPEM aims to build on the strong historic ties between South Africa and China. It will create opportunities for non-government entities across academia, business and civil society to interact more frequently through organised structures.
The youth festival was attended by over 300 youth delegates from various sectors such as business, academia and diplomatic corps, who reported on the various working groups.
A youth representative from China, Zhang Zhihuan, who works in Ethophia told SAnews that while the festival duration was short, he learnt a great deal from his African counterparts in business.
“I have felt the passion of my African friends, who I have made good partners. I have studied, worked and lived with the local youth,” Zhang said.
As youth which represents the future and hope of Africa-China cooperation, Zhang was of the view that young people from the two continents need more rapid economic development, mutual learning, visits and face-to-face dialogues in order to have a better understanding of their cooperation, cultures and history.
“We need to deepen our traditional friendships… China and South Africa are equal partners and brothers. As young people, we should pass on the torch of friendship.”
Another youth, Tembani Makata, who spoke on behalf of youth academics, said most of the opportunities available in academia are not easily accessible due to the language barrier, and that China is ahead in new methodologies of teaching, despite the two continents having similar developmental goals.
“More needs to be done to align educational systems for the benefit of both countries. The two countries must also work together to learn each other’s languages and they must fund educational system improvement and cultural activity exchange programmes. This is in addition to identifying and supporting scarce skills that will move both countries forward,” said Makata.
The youth in the diplomatic sector called for more youth involvement to address poverty, youth unemployment, inequality, limited financial access and lack of youth mentorship.
“If we can implement these, we would eliminate barriers limiting people-to-people exchange and interaction between Africa and China. Youth have a role to play in national developmental strategies, politics, economy and society,” youth representative Ndzwana Makaula said.
The group was of the view that they can share best development policies, with a focus on women developmental programmes.
Deputy Minister Manamela reassured that the youth of Africa and China are engaging in an equal and mutually beneficial relationship.
This relationship, he said, must go on long after those who are here have taken up new responsibilities.
“The world is looking to Africa and China to finally show the way in dealing with the lack of transformation of global institutions, the unipolarity of power and the move towards human development rather than hate, polarisation and underdevelopment,” the Deputy Minister said.
Vice Premier Liu urged the youth of both countries to remember history and carry forward the baton of friendship between the two nations.
She also suggested that the young generations of the two continents exchange and learn from each other, so as to continuously inject fresh vigour into the development and rejuvenation of both countries.
Minister Molewa described the deliberations of the festival as “successful and fruitful discussions”.
She called upon all sectors of society to create an enabling environment at a national, regional and global level that will unleash the potential of youth, as the two continents look on youth to drive development.
“We look upon you to provide innovative solutions that will enable us to realise our development ambitions, including the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” the Minister said.