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Tour changes perceptions
Young people from Africa say stereotypes about China have been debunked by trips to high-tech and cultural highlights in Guangdong.

Young people from Africa say stereotypes about China have been debunked by trips to high-tech and cultural highlights in Guangdong.

Dancing hand in hand in a big circle with new Chinese friends, 188 African young people enjoyed a festive ending to the 2016 China-Africa Youth Gala held in South China's Guangdong province Aug 2 to 4.

Chanting to Waka Waka and Wavin' Flag, theme songs of the football World Cup in South Africa, Chinese and African participants in the gala lifted spirits at the top of Canton Tower in the provincial capital Guangzhou, where the farewell was held.

Before the trip to Guangzhou, the African delegation had toured high-tech companies in Shenzhen and been treated to a traditional lion dance in Foshan, two other fast-developing cities in Guangdong.

The three-day tour was eye-opening and changed the African guests' perception of China, according to David Kandi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"The old image of China was of a production base of low-quality things, because many people coming to China from Africa brought such stuff back to their countries," says the 29-year-old founder of Zion Hub, an IT service provider.

"But I have a new image of China now, which is innovation and technology," Kandi says, standing in the exhibition hall of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. He was impressed by the vision of the Shenzhen-based telecom giant in its work on a 4.5G network and the internet of things, the latter referring to the network of everyday objects with software or sensors that allow them to exchange data.

"Seeing is believing. Everywhere I go, I see innovation. I believe that Chinese people are advanced in the technology field," he says, adding that two of his friends bought a Xiaomi phone during the tour.

"Wars in my country ended 10 years ago, and now we have peace. We are trying to get developed and are in a technology revolution. The field is empty. We need help from Chinese talent, and there are many opportunities for Chinese investors."

China has been promoting mutually beneficial cooperation with African countries in areas of business and trade, technology, culture, education and tourism since Egypt became the first African country to establish diplomatic relations with China 60 years ago.

China-Africa relations were lifted to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership through a consensus reached in December by President Xi Jinping and African leaders attending the second summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Johannesburg.

Guangdong is a preferred destination for Africans coming to China to study or do business. The province saw a trade volume with Africa last year of .2 billion, one-fourth of the country's total trade volume with Africa.

Governor Zhu Xiaodan will visit South Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya this month. The provincial government also will join with China Development Bank and the World Bank to hold the second Investing in Africa Forum in Guangzhou in September.

"The forum will discuss business opportunities in areas such as light industry and agriculture and witness the signing of a bunch of cooperative projects. We hope to bridge the development strategy of Guangdong and that of Africa to enhance cooperation," says He Zhongyou, vice-governor of Guangdong.

Many Chinese companies have discovered the great potential for market growth in Africa, including Hytera Communications Corp, the second largest provider of professional mobile radio communications after Motorola Inc.

The Shenzhen company has seen its sales in Africa increase by at least 20 percent yearly in the past five years, says Ye Yuanlai, product manager of Hytera's business in eastern and western Africa.

"Africa is a fertile market. It is in desperate need of improved infrastructure, medical care, education, communications, and especially its public security. With walkie-talkies as our main product, we can provide solutions in this field," Ye says.

The company has been stepping up its expansion in Africa since 2010. Hytera has opened branches and after-sales service centers in countries including South Africa, Angola, Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya, according to Ye. It also is by sponsoring local sport events.

Hytera was on the tour for the visiting African youth leaders. "We hope that more African friends can know Hytera after such visits, but more importantly, we want to change Africans' prejudice against made-in-China products," Ye says.

Editor:Zoe Xu
Modern Guangzhou Souvenirs picks some of the best Cantonese-style souvenirs for you – including those famous pieces as well as lighter and and comparatively cheap items but still with that defining Cantonese character.

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