China is committed to helping African countries to build their space-sector capacity for socio-economic development. The pledge was restated Wednesday during an engagement session between Chinese astronauts and African students.
Director-General of the Department of African Affairs in China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Wu Peng noted that the East Asian economic powerhouse will do so for the reason that China and Africa share a common dream of development and prosperity.
“China and Africa share the same history and we have a common historical mission. We are closely linked with each other,” he said when he made his remarks during the students’ joint session with astronauts.
Wu said China is willing to continue walking hand in hand with African countries on the path of modernization, by jointly implementing development strategies and “promoting mechanism of jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative and Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)” which he said provides opportunities for Africa’s sustainable development.
“China supports Africa to train talents in various fields in making social developments through scientific and technological innovation efficiency by providing opportunities for African youth to pursue their dreams,” he said
His sentiments resonated well with those of the Minister Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission in the Chinese Embassy in Kenya Zhang Zhizhong who joined the event online from Nairobi.
He indicated that China wants to develop international cooperation with Kenya and other African countries, to jointly explore science and uncover the mysteries of space outlining the significance of space studies to Africa, especially in the area of Agriculture, to enhance development.
“The reason why Kenyan people and Chinese people, although thousands of miles apart from each other, still feel so close to each other, is that we share similar dreams about development and we devote ourselves to work with each other to fulfill our dreams,” he said
During the session, one of the Chinese astronauts Chen Dong took time to answer questions from young learners from across Africa. He detailed the grounds for why space ferments development.
“Space is very important for a country’s development. With the development of space technologies, china has enhanced its technological capabilities. The research and application of space technologies can help in many ways…. Development of space industry can promote the growth of other fields, offering opportunities for the countries’ economy and also provides support for the development of high-tech industries,” said Chen
The Taikonaut, as they are popularly known in China, added; “Space industry provides a vast platform for scientific research. Space offers scientists an opportunity to conduct experiments and the people will enjoy concrete results. Space technologies are simply closely related to development,”
During the Question and Answer session, the students noted that stories of Chinese astronauts have given a lot of encouragement and inspiration to African teenagers to fly into space in the future.
“If I get the opportunity to study astronaut, I will embrace it and give it my best to turn my dreams into reality,” said Caren Chebet, a Kenyan student who participated in the session.
The event coincided with an award ceremony for the “My Dream” Painting Competition organized to capture and represent the feelings of African youth toward Chinese space astronauts.
Three astronauts who are conducting a mission at Tiangong introduced the 10 paintings to the audience, including winners and participants, through a recorded video call from the space station.