Q) In your speech to the Forum on China – Africa Cooperation [FOCAC] you described the Chinese presence in Africa as a new form of colonialism which aims to control and dominate the African continent. What are your reasons for this verbal attack on the Chinese?
A) I do not consider what I said to be a campaign against the Chinese; on the contrary we have a positive opinion of the Chinese because they aided the liberation movement in Africa; we consider this to be great work undertaken by China and we hope to continue in the same path. We are also aware of the importance of China as a strong country contributing to international balance, but not at the expense of the people [of Africa]. In my speech I was speaking of a united China, and this is something – as Africans – that we respect and support, but when we look at the reality on the ground we find that there is something akin to a Chinese invasion of the African continent. This is something that brings to mind the effects that colonialism had on the African continent [in the past] from the creation of settlements to the dispersal of African communities. Therefore we advise our Chinese friends not to follow in this direction i.e. bringing thousands of Chinese workers to Africa under the pretext of employment, for at the same time as this Africa is suffering from unemployment. Therefore we invite the Chinese to contribute to solving the problem of unemployment in Africa. And so perhaps the Chinese can train the African workforce, thereby creating a labor market that could include thousands of African workers, rather than brining in Chinese workers who are provided with farms and homes in Africa, for this is something that we consider to be re-settlement.
Q) How do you interpret the statements made by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao that China is training and employing thousands of Africans and is keen to provide Africa with technology?
A) This is a good thing, and we welcome it. But this welcome does not mean [accepting] the Chinese coming to settle in Africa. We ask why [this is happening at all]?
Q) Are you offering a new mechanism of cooperation between China and Africa?
A) Firstly, we see that there is an insult to the African Union in the current mechanism [of cooperation]. Is it reasonable for China – as a single country – to preside over an entire continent? This is…an injustice.
Q) But doesn’t China function as continent as well?
A) Yes, but cooperation should not take place in this manner, as this manner of cooperation causes problems with other countries. For example, France has come out and talked about French – African cooperation, and the same goes for other countries. This is not worthy of Africa. Today we see that the Chinese are refusing to allow representatives of the African Union to participate in the operations of FOCAC, and we ask how can the Chinese reject the presence of administrative tools of the African Union? China’s unwillingness to accept the presence of African Union commissioners means that they do not want the African Union, or African unity, but rather China wants to cooperate with Africa as separate nations, rather than as a union.
Q) Are you proposing an African mechanism to cooperate with China?
A) Until the operation is logical, there must be cooperation with institutions of the African Union. I reiterate that our position is not against China, but we disagree with China on its vision of cooperation and its view of Africa.
Q) The Chinese Prime Minister said that his country was repaying the favor to the Africans that helped China reach its place as part of the UN Security Council. What is your comment on this?
A) China has aided us and the liberation movements [in Africa], and the Africans played a role in raising China to the UN and the Security Council, which is something that we consider to be a good and important asset. However when the Chinese reached a certain position in the Security Council and the international community, it began to denounce others in one way or another, and it did not support its friends. We did not see the Chinese playing an effective role, and it did not help the African [bloc] gain a seat on the Security Council, but on the contrary it opposed this. And this caused us to ask the question “What is the difference between them and imperialists?”
Q) But China said that it supports the African [bloc] being given a seat on the UN Security Council to achieve international balance [of powers] and fair relations?
A) The African [bloc] is present, as is Libya, Uganda, and others, but this does not mean that the African [bloc] has attained a [permanent] seat on the Security Council. We hope that Chine does not forget its principles i.e. working for cooperation and supporting these regions and bringing attention to their problems rather than abandoning them…for this is incomprehensible. Here I am reminded of the strange Chinese position on the Goldstone report…China should have had a more visible position on this, rather than being satisfied with a tentative vote.
Q) Some figures in FOCAC called for cooperation with China to also include political issues in order to bring more justice and fairness to political issues in the Arab and Islamic world. Do you agree with this proposal?
A) Genuine cooperation must include politics, the economy, and all areas, and should not be limited to building roads and schools. It is true that this is required, but international cooperation is not based upon constructing buildings and giving aid, but rather through political positions.
Q) Libya is set so host the Arab Summit March next year, will Libya pave the way towards successful inter-Arab reconciliation at the forthcoming Arab Summit?
A) Libya has its own point of view, and it will have its own initiatives and ideas…we are intensifying our meetings with Arab Foreign Ministers, and we recently consulted with Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit on the preparations for the Arab Summit.
Q) Inter-Arab relations are on the agenda of the forthcoming Arab summit, however Libyan President Colonel Muammar Gaddafi recently said that Arabs can agree on nothing other than the alphabet, and so will Libya try to achieve inter-Arab reconciliation?
A) Muammar Gaddafi is an Arab and one of the original [Arab] unionists, and therefore he is more concerned about the Arab community than he is even about the people of Libya. And of course he will reflect on these issues, and he will address what can be addressed.
Q) As for the dilemma of the Palestinian issue, do you believe there is a possibility of a new outlook, especially in light of the meeting of the Arab Peace Initiative on Thursday?
A) We have put forward solutions, and pushed for this direction. We have had enough of other’s efforts [towards the Palestinian issue], we have experienced more than 40 years of this. There is no other choice than to establish a unified [Palestinian – Israeli] state.
Q) However Israel has rejected all solutions and initiatives, including the Libyan initiative.
A) The Arabs should refuse to take a different position so long as the Israelis reject this. When the Arabs begin to operate with a spirit of teamwork, only than can we achieve a new outlook [on the Palestinian issue].