Hassan Moussa-Ali arrived in China expectant, anticipating good news of what the next five years would hold for his country and the rest of the African continent.
At a press briefing yesterday, on the eve of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) 19th National Congress, Moussa-Ali raised his hand to ask a question about the strategy for Africa.
But in the sea of journalists packed into Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, the journalist from Chad’s Le Progres daily newspaper’s hand wasn’t spotted by party spokesperson Tuo Zhen, who addressed the briefing.
He said on the sidelines after the press briefing: “What I’m expecting of the new political programme of China is what policy China will have in place for Africa.
‘‘That is what I’m expecting after this congress because in most of the countries of Africa there are Chinese companies and Chinese people working there. But we are not really seeing the development yet. We know the position of China for the next five years is to develop Africa.”
Brics, of which South Africa is a key member, is one of the drivers of co-operation between China and the developing world.
About China’s policy for developing economies as part of the CPC’s congress agenda, Zhen said yesterday: “We will continue to stick to the basic state policy of opening up, opening even wider to the outside world.
“To speed up the dawning of the new open economy system to further expand market access to promote a new round of high quality of opening up, our goal is to achieve a win-win and a common development.”
Today, the congress will open at 9am local time and will last until October 24.
The area around the Great Hall of the People saw a high number of military and police personnel as security was beefed up.
Measures are set to intensify with the official opening ceremony today. Before the briefing, residents received SMS messages urging them to be patient as security was tightened in the capital for the congress.
The security blanket was cast earlier in the week when, without notice, major social media platforms like Google and its Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp became unavailable to users.
The only social media platform that is functioning without a hitch is WeChat, the preferred social media platform of the CPC.
At the briefing, Zhen was at pains to point out that the political report to be presented at the plenaries at the congress was informed by input from all stakeholders.
He said President Xi Jinpeng was adamant that consultations happened far and wide – from retired party members, localities and municipalities to the ordinary rank and file.
The congress agenda will also focus on the CPC’s ongoing anti-corruption efforts and will ultimately ratify elected delegates to serve on the Party Central Committee.
Zhen said amendments to the party’s constitution were also anticipated as this was the mandate received in consultations for the political report.
Moussa-Ali was one of more than 50 African journalists in the foreign press contingent. Close to 1000 local and foreign journalists attended yesterday’s press briefing and that number is likely to swell to 3000 once the congress gets under way.
The attention is warranted: China is the world’s second largest economy after the US and reportedly spent $350billion (R4.7bn) in foreign aid and investment since Xi came into power five years ago.
This figure is second only to the US.
The congress will seek to enhance policy to boost China’s trajectory on the global stage even further.
“The Chinese economy has entered a new normal… Between 2013 and 2016, the Chinese GDP expanded by 7.2% a year.”
Zhen added: “At present, the Chinese economy is building a stronger momentum for steady progress and growth. Over the recent period, major international institutions have all revised up their forecasts for China’s economic growth.”