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China, Africa should cement diplomatic ties through closer people-to-people exchanges, says professo

Xinhua | According to an Ethiopian expert, China and African countries should strengthen their ever-deepening diplomatic connections by expanding people-to-people encounters.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, a professor of public policy at Ethiopia's Addis Ababa University, said that people-to-people contacts should be considered the foundation and core of China-Africa relations.

Strong people-to-people interactions may strengthen conventional diplomacy, Costantinos added, with the rise of technology boosting the power of public diplomacy.

"We must recognize that the twenty-first century has fundamentally altered the way nations interact with one another," he stated, adding that "conventional diplomatic ties alone will not achieve the expected ambitions unless they are linked and supported by tremendous popular backing."

Costantinos, who has worked as an economist for the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, believes that effective people-to-people ties require public participation in complicated issues that cross national borders.

He urged China and Africa to build a collaborative partnership by focusing on the people on both sides as "a prerequisite for abundant relations and adopting a disciplined coordination model for diplomacy."

According to the expert, China can enable Africa's increasing young population to stay up with the latest breakthroughs by sharing its knowledge and techniques.

Costantinos emphasized the need of developing China-Africa cultural and people-to-people exchanges as one of the nine initiatives to be undertaken under the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035's first three-year plan.

During the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation's Eighth Ministerial Conference in late November 2021, China stated that 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 with diplomatic ties with China approved tourist destinations for Chinese groups, as well as host a series of events such as film festivals and forums.

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