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Symposium on “African Research Academia Studies and Implements the Spirits of President Xi Jinping’s Congratulatory Letter to the Inauguration of China-Africa Institute” was Held in IWAAS


On April 15, 2019, the symposium on “African Research Academia Learns and Implements the Spirits of President Xi Jinping’s Congratulatory Letter to the Inauguration of China-Africa Institute” was held in the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies (IWAAS), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).  More than 70 members, from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Department, Central Committee of CPC, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, China Institute of International Studies, Renmin University of China, China Foreign Affairs University and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, presented the symposium.
 
The meeting was hosted by Guo Hong, Party Secretary of IWAAS.  Firstly, Party Secretary Guo Hong emphasized the important meaning of the organization of this meeting and the profound learning of the spirits of President Xi Jinping’s congratulatory letter.  She illustrated the congratulatory letter from President Xi Jinping has a thorough understanding of China-Africa Institute, and fully demonstrates the great importance attached by the central committee of CPC and the State Council to China-Africa Institute.  The congratulatory letter points out the way and provides fundamental guidance to strengthen the China-Africa academic research and exchanges and run the China-Africa Institute well.  The inauguration of China-Africa Institute is just the first step and the future development has a long way.  She also illustrated we would live up to the expectations of President Xi and Chinese and African people, and tried to build China-Africa Institute into a world-class high-end platform in order to gather China-Africa academic think-tank resources, improve mutual understanding and friendship between China-Africa people, and make recommendations to China-Africa cooperation or the cooperation between Africa and other countries.
 
Counselor Li Chong from the Department of African Affairs of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made the speech.  He said the establishment of China-Africa Institute, with President Xi Jinping’s personal care and support, was of great significance and highly appreciated and unanimously welcomed by African countries.  We should study the spirits of the congratulatory letter seriously, and guided by Xi Jinping’s thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics in new era and Xi Jinping’s diplomatic thought, profoundly recognize the important meaning of doing a good job in African affairs in the new situation, have a good grasp of China-Africa relations in the new situation and the new challenges in China’s African affairs, improve the sense of responsibility and mission and strengthen the overall coordination and planning, in efforts to promote the soft power with Chinese characteristics and the construction of discourse power and continue to open up the new prospects in our African studies.
 
Ai Ping, Former Vice Minister of International Department, Central Committee of CPC, starting from his own work on the African affairs, pointed out that China had a glorious tradition in African studies.  The first institute of African studies was established under the instruction of Chairman Mao, and the first China-Africa institute was established under the instruction of President Xi.  China’s African studies have also accompanied the process of the Reform and Opening.  At present, China’s studies on Africa are divided into different sections.  The newly established China-Africa Institute is a platform for exchanges among scholars who study Africa.  In the future, China-Africa Institute should give priority to exchanges, focus on long-term development, and pay attention to the cultivation of talents.  China-Africa Institute is also a transmission window for Africa and the west to learn about China and China’s diplomacy, work together and share the benefits.
 
Xu Weizhong, Director of Institute of African Studies of CICIR, said that President Xi’s congratulatory letter illustrated the importance of China-Africa relations, South-South cooperation and global governance in a century facing unprecedented changes.  However, Chinese scholars’ African Studies and African people’s impression of China are both influenced by the West too much.  The establishment of China-Africa Institute should reverse such situation, increase the mutual understanding between Chinese and African peoples, play the role of exchange platform, and connect the diplomats in the trenches, the entrepreneurs in Africa and the scholars to solve the problem of the scholars’ lack of first-hand information and data.  In the future, China-Africa cooperation should deepen friendship, strengthen cooperation, and learn from each other’s civilizations, in order to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
 
Researcher Wang Lincong, Assistant of Director of IWAAS, illustrated President Xi’s congratulatory letter embodied the top-level design of Chinese leaders of work and research on Africa, and the congratulatory letter is the foundation of establishing China-Africa Institute and the soul of developing China-Africa Institute.  Therefore, China-Africa Institute has a glorious mission and a heavy responsibility.  China-Africa Institute should gradually promote the establishment of the discipline system for China’s African studies, guided by the spirits of President Xi’s congratulatory letter, so that scientific research can serve the reality.  This is compatible with the rules of academic research and the needs of reality, and can promote African studies to go stably, far, wide and solidly.   Currently, China’s African studies have gradually shifted from the knowledge-based to the research-based.  In terms of promoting the establishment of the discipline system of China’s African studies, he pointed out that, first of all, the current situation should be clarified and the deficiencies should be identified in order to solve some problems including the current fragmentation of African research, the imperfection and imbalance of the discipline system, the inadequacy of field research, etc; secondly, it is necessary to make up the shortcomings of the discipline, make overall planning, avoid fragmentation, and establish the three-level discipline of African studies; finally, we should serve the country and reality scientifically, attach importance to the study of major theoretical and practical issues, and overcome the tendency of utilitarianism.
 
Liu Qingjian, Professor of the School of International Relations of Renmin University of China, reviewed her own research experience, and believed that the establishment of China-Africa Institute is a landmark event, the long-time expectation of Chinese African research academia, the necessary requirement of China-Africa relations while developing into the present stage, and a great measure to deepen mutual learning of Chinese and African civilizations and build China-Africa community with a shared future.  With the support of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China-Africa Institute should conduct in-depth researches on Africa, cultivate real “Africa Expert” in China and real “China Expert” in Africa, jointly carry out theoretical innovation and respond to major practical issues. Professor Liu also expressed her belief that China-Africa Institute would become a key platform for China’s African studies and bring together the Chinese and African research forces, which would be conducive to the great development, prosperity and cooperation of China-Africa relations.  The African studies in China are bound to enter a new era.
 
Li Dan, Professor of China Foreign Affairs University, collected, summarized and compiled the comments from African scholars on President Xi’s congratulatory letter and the establishment of China-Africa Institute.  The scholars from Africa spoke highly of the congratulatory letter and generally believed this reflected President Xi’s concern for the African people and China-Africa relations, which is a good example of South-South cooperation and a model for African leaders to learn.
 
Researcher Li Zhibiao, Director of Division of African Studies of IWAAS, illustrated the establishment of China-Africa Institute marked a new era of the faster development of China’s African studies and China-Africa relations.  In the future, we should put the spirits of President Xi’s congratulatory letter into the routine research to gain more academic achievements, and pay more attention to diversified cooperation and development, the combination of research topics with research interests and national needs and the role of think-tank to offer suggestions.
 
Bi Jiankang, Researcher of the Institute of World History Research of CASS, believed that it is necessary to learn the spirits of President Xi’s congratulatory letter and improve the discipline construction of Chinese African studies. We should attach importance to the study of African history so as to form a scientific knowledge system of Africa in China.
 
Zeng Aiping, Researcher of China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), believed that it is necessary to learn the spirits of President Xi's congratulatory letter and to promote the China’s African studies and get rid of the shackles of western centrism with a global perspective and a Chinese perspective.   At the same time, we should deal with the relationship between basic research and applied research.
 
Associate Researcher Liu Dong and Dr. Meng Jin from IWAAS respectively talked about their own feelings about the congratulatory letter in combination with their research work.  They also said that President Xi’s congratulatory letter and the establishment of China-Africa Institute encouraged the young generation of China’s African Studies to seize the historical opportunities, to take on responsibilities, to dedicate themselves and to welcome the new era in order to give better service to our party and people.
 
Researcher Li Xinfeng, Deputy Director of IWAAS, made the summary speech.  He studied President Xi's congratulatory letter word by word and talked about five points.  First, President Xi’s congratulatory letter was full of enthusiasm, which showed that President Xi attached great importance to China-Africa Institute and had great expectations for China’s African studies.  Second, from a strategic perspective, President Xi’s congratulatory letter pointed out that the current world situation is characterized by unprecedented changes in the past century.  Third, President Xi pointed out in his congratulatory letter that the African studies should be conducted from an objective perspective to benefit the Chinese and African people and to contribute world peace and development.  Fourth, President Xi’s congratulatory letter is rich in content. It is a concrete practice of implementing the eight actions of FOCAC Beijing Summit, drawing the coordinate for China-Africa Institute and jointly creating a new growth pole for China-Africa people-to-people and cultural exchanges.  Fifth, President Xi expressed his sincere wishes in the congratulatory letter, and pointed out the mission and direction of China’s African studies. China-Africa Institute should be built as a world-class and high-end platform for pooling resources from Chinese and African academic think tanks and enhancing mutual understanding and friendship between Chinese and African people.  Regarding the future work plan of the China-Africa Institute, Li Xinfeng said that the China-Africa Institute should play the “four roles” (communication platform, research base, talent base and communication window), do a good job in the “four combinations”, complete the four topics, and launch the “four series” results. He warmly called on the African experts and scholars present here, “The spring of China's African studies has come.  Let's embrace the beautiful spring and live up to this great and beautiful era.”
 


Copyright: Institute of West-Asian and African Studies, CASS

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