Blair urges West to follow China development example
Former British prime minister Tony Blair said Thursday that China sets a good example for Western governments seeking to help Africa develop.
"There is a reason why a lot of African leaders will deal with China. And it's not just because China is a powerful country," Blair told AFP after giving a speech about development in Africa.
"It's because our systems can be very bureaucratic and the Chinese are quite direct in what they do," he said.
"So they will say to the leader of a country, 'Well what do you need?' and he'll say I need a road from A to B,' and then the next day someone's there with a shovel," he said during a visit to Washington.
In his speech to the Center for Global Development, he said Western countries needed to "work on things the country judges to be vital, not necessarily the things that we think back in our home legislature gets the biggest cheer."
He said he would still encourage Western governments to promote crucial projects, such as those in the area of health and education in Sierra Leone and Liberia -- where his Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) charity works.
"But our priorities have to connect with theirs," he said.
In his brief interview with AFP, he also said both China and Western countries could work in tandem to help develop Africa.
"Now I actually think if we're smart about it and they're smart about it, there are areas of cooperation and partnership where we can do things in the infrastructure field and where there's real Chinese can-do expertise that is a win-win for both of us and the country," he said.
© 2010 AFP