The China-Africa Public Diplomacy Forum has opened in Dar-es-salaam with the participation of more than 100 representatives from China and Africa, including officials, businessmen, experts and media professionals.

The Chinese people will never forget the help from the African people, and the two peoples are connected by heart and soul, said Li Zhaoxing, chairman of China Public Diplomacy Association in his speech at Tuesday’s opening ceremony.

The forum is focusing on exploring opportunities for future development and shared diplomatic perceptions so as to understand the divergence of opinions which can lead to misunderstandings.

“The media in China and Africa should work closely in sharing dreams of development between China and African countries,” said Nape Nnauye, Tanzania’s Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports.

Nnauye said it was important for the media to play a role in bridging the gap between the peoples of China and Africa. “Chinese people are not only our friends but they are also our brothers and sisters,” said the minister.

Nnauye said the media could also promote national culture and safeguard stability. “It’s high time now the media should wake up and disseminate good news to the world instead of portraying the African continent negatively,” he added.

Zhao Qizheng, the Dean of the School of Journalism of China’s Renmin University, said he was optimistic that the African continent would realize its development dream in the next 20 years.

Zhao said: “If someone today writes in a newspaper that Africa will never achieve its development dream, just keep that cutting and show it to them after 20 years. I am sure that Africa should have achieved its dream by that time.”

Doreen Apollos, the Communication Adviser for the African Union (AU) Commission, said the media had a better chance to promote investment opportunities in China and Africa.

“We need to build understanding between our peoples for the development of the continent,” she said. “We can also use our economic partnership to showcase our culture.”