Xi says China to implement eight major initiatives with African countries
04 September, 2018, 00:36 | Author: Elaine Woods
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday promoted Beijing's initiative to build ports and other infrastructure to African leaders as a tool for "common prosperity" in a world facing challenges from trade protectionism.
Xi made the announcement in a keynote speech delivered at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
The summit themed "China and Africa: Towards an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-Win Cooperation", is meant to link the Belt and Road Initiative with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the AU's Agenda 2063 and individual countries' development plans. "Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects but in places where they count the most", he said.
African and other Asian leaders have welcomed "Belt and Road" but some projects have prompted complaints about debt and other problems. China will carry out 50 agricultural assistance programs, provide emergency humanitarian food aid amounting to 1 billion yuan (147 million USA dollars) to African countries affected by natural disasters, and send 500 senior agricultural experts to Africa.
South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa who was also the co-chairperson of the session, said FOCAC refutes the misconception by some quarters that it is a new form of colonialism in Africa, pointing out that the Forum is on the contrary beneficial to the people of China and Africa.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda also came out in support of Chinese investment, saying "Africa is not a zero-sum game".
China's outreach to Africa aims to build trade, investment and political ties with a continent often seen as overlooked by the USA and other Western nations.
He announced that China would exempt some African nations from outstanding debts in the form of free Chinese government loans due by the end of 2018.
Xi, addressing leaders at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, said the new $60 billion will include $15 billion of aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans, a credit line of $20 billion, a $10 billion special fund for China-Africa development, and a $5 billion special fund for imports from Africa.
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China loaned around $125 billion to the continent from 2000 to 2016, data from the China-Africa Research Initiative at Washington's Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies shows. The FOCAC follow-up mechanisms are built at the Ministerial Conference, which is held every three years; the Senior Officials Follow-up Meeting and the Senior Officials Preparatory Meeting for the Ministerial Conference are held respectively in the year and a few days before the Ministerial Conference is held; and the consultations between the African Diplomatic Corps in China and the Secretariat of the Chinese Follow-up Committee are held at least twice a year.
China defends continued lending to Africa on the grounds that the continent still needs debt-funded infrastructure development.
State media has accused the West of sour grapes over China's prominent role in Africa and has angrily rejected claims of forcing African countries into a debt trap.
"We respect, love and support Africa", he said, adding that China would never interfere with the African people's chosen developmental path or its internal affairs, including through imposing its will.
China has provided aid to Africa since the Cold War, but Beijing's presence in the region has soared with its emergence as a global trading power.
Xi said the partnership should "increase political and policy dialogue, enhance mutual understanding and support and boost coordination on major global and regional issues [to] enable us to uphold our common interests".
Xi Jinping has announced eight new initiatives, an additional $60 billion for Africa and a clean up of the debt maturing by this year of its LDCs, highly indebted, landlocked and Small Islands States. "Much of what is imported from China is finished goods", he said.
Locals in other countries have complained about the practice of using Chinese labor for building projects and what are perceived as sweetheart deals for Chinese companies.
He will also be co-chairing the forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit which started this morning.
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