Ramaphosa: China is not trying to re-colonise Africa

Uhuru in China for trade talks days after hosting UK PM Theresa May

Uhuru in China for trade talks days after hosting UK PM Theresa May

China hosts African leaders Monday for a summit aimed at promoting Beijing's vision for development on the continent, even as it finds itself increasingly criticized over its debt-heavy approach to foreign aid.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged debt relief to some poorer African nations, attempting to push back against a major criticism of his flagship Belt and Road initiative. The commitment comes on top of another US$60 billion announced at the summit three years ago.

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.

It includes US$15 billion in grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans - three times the amount pledged in 2015. "China exports to us what it makes in its factories".

On trade facilitation, Xi said China will increase imports, especially non-resource products, from Africa and support African countries in participating in China International Import Expo.

The president noted that all ECOWAS member states are participating in a FOCAC summit.

The program is part of Xi's broader Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious $120-billion-plus project that aims to link 65 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa - together accounting for nearly two-thirds of the world's population - through infrastructure projects and trade.

The Beijing forum brings together leaders from China and more than 50 African countries. Djibouti has become heavily dependent on Chinese financing after China opened its first overseas military base in the Horn of Africa country previous year, a powerful signal of the continent's strategic importance to Beijing. "Is China unfairly exploiting Africa like the others before it?"

President Buhari also, on behalf of ECOWAS member states, appreciated the Chinese government for its increasing investment in the African sub-region with the aim of building a prosperous and shared future.

But he added that China and Africa should work towards a more balanced trade relationship.

He echoed Ramaphosa's call for "win-win cooperation" and said China rejected protections and unilateralism. "Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects, but in places where they count the most", Xi said.

China has poured billions in loans for roads, railways, ports and other major infrastructure projects in Asia and Africa. He also flagged a China-Africa "green envoys programme" that would muscle Africa's capacity for environmental management, pollution prevention and control, as well as green development.

Djibouti has become heavily dependent on Chinese financing after China opened its first overseas military base in the Horn of Africa country previous year, a powerful signal of the continent's strategic importance to Beijing. A total of 50 security assistance programs will be carried out in the fields including United Nations peacekeeping missions, fighting piracy, and combating terrorism. "China does not interfere in Africa's internal affairs and does not impose its own will on Africa".

China is a trusted and committed partner in advancing Africa's vision, he said.

China would be happy to help Africa upgrade its customs and commodities inspection facilities and provide supplies and equipment to improve trade connectivity with the continent, the Chinese leader added.

China and Mauritius also wrapped up negotiations on a bilateral free-trade agreement on Sunday, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

China has established 54 Confucius Institutes and 27 Confucius classrooms in 41 African countries.

The interest in the forum is a result of China's growing influence on the African continent and proves the FOCAC has been pragmatic and efficient, analysts said.

"But thus far, there has not been a systematic and widespread policy addressing this".

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