China and the countries of Africa should cement their ever-deepening diplomatic ties by further enhancing people-to-people exchanges, an Ethiopian expert has said.
People-to-people relations should be considered the basis and mainstay and could uplift the already blossoming China-Africa ties, Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, a professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
With the emergence of technology boosting the power of public diplomacy, strong people-to-people relations can support the traditional form of diplomacy, Costantinos said.
“We should understand that the 21st century has dramatically changed the way nations interact with each other in which traditional diplomatic ties alone could not bring about the expected aspirations unless it is aligned and supported by formidable popular support,” he said.
Costantinos, who has served as an economic advisor to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said that building strong people-to-people relations involves public participation in complex issues that transcend national boundaries.
He called on China and Africa to develop a collaborative relationship by putting the people of both sides at the center as “a requisite for abundant relations and adopt a disciplined coordination model for the conduct of diplomacy.”
According to the expert, by sharing its experience and practices, China can empower Africa’s growing young population to keep up with the latest advancements.
Costantinos underscored the importance of expanding China-Africa cultural and people-to-people exchange as one of the nine programs to be implemented under the first three-year plan of the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035.
During the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in late November 2021, China said it will work closely with African countries to implement the cultural and people-to-people exchange program, in which the Asian country will support making all African countries having diplomatic ties with China approved destinations for Chinese tourist groups, and hold a series of events including film festivals and forums.