Finance

China’s Xi says African investments come with ‘no strings’

China’s Xi says African investments come with ‘no strings’

President Xi Jinping told African leaders on Monday that China's investments on the continent have "no political strings attached", pledging $60 billion in new development financing, even as Beijing is increasingly criticised over its debt-heavy projects overseas.

He furthered that Liberia supports China's hosting the Beijing Summit of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and is willing to make whatever contribution that would enhance friendship between the two countries and peoples.

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".

On industrial promotion, Xi said a China-Africa economic and trade expo will be set up in China and Chinese companies are encouraged to increase investment in Africa.

A study by the Center for Global Development, a U.S. think-tank, found "serious concerns" about the sustainability of sovereign debt in eight Asian, European and African countries receiving Belt and Road funds.

At a time when President Trump is picking trade fights with the United States' neighbors and allies, the Chinese leader has appeared to relish the opportunity to appear as a popular global statesman and champion of the liberal economic order.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended the Chinese government's multi-billion-rand investments in Africa, saying the country is not trying to re-colonise countries on the continent.

With all these developments, Africa Beyond Aid crusader Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, maintains that "Africa is not a zero sum game". China's exports to Africa grew by 2.7 per cent to $94.74 billion, while its imports rose by 32.8 per cent to $75.26 billion.

Chinese officials say this year's summit will strengthen Africa's role in Xi's Belt and Road initiative to link China by sea and land with Southeast and Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa through an infrastructure network modeled on the old Silk Road.

China's President Xi Jinping and more than 30 Chinese leaders have visited Africa and over 60 African heads of state and government been to China, which has established strategic partnership or comprehensive cooperative partnership with 24 African countries. "What we value is the sharing of development experience and the support we can offer to Africa's national rejuvenation and prosperity", Xi said.

Xi told African counterparts and business leaders Monday that China's investments on the continent have "no political strings attached", even as Beijing is increasingly criticised over its debt-heavy projects overseas.

Analysts said China's pledges highlighted Africa's growing importance to Beijing as its trade war with Washington escalated.

China defends continued lending to Africa on the grounds that the continent still needs debt-funded infrastructure development.

Ross Anthony, director of the Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, said there was much room for growth - and improvement - in cooperation between China and Africa.

Ramaphosa's comprehensive speech, coming after his summit co-chairperson and Chinese President Xi Jinping committed an additional $60 billion investment to Africa over the next three years, appeared to hit the right notes.

On green development, Xi said China will undertake 50 aid projects on green development, and ecological and environmental protection, with a focus on climate change, ocean, desertification prevention and control, and wildlife protection. Locals in other countries have complained about the practice of using Chinese labour for building projects and what are perceived as sweetheart deals for Chinese companies.


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