FOCAC 2018 summit: 9 major things Buhari said in China

Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa

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.

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) should "build links between dignity, work opportunity and economic", Ramaphosa said. "Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects, but in places where they count the most".

Details were vague but the $60 billion included $15 billion in grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans, $20 billion in credit lines, and a $10 billion special fund for development financing.

The package outlined by Xi also includes medical aid, environmental protection, agricultural training and assistance, and government scholarships and vocational training for more than 100,000 young Africans.

China has pledged a $60 billion fund to bolster industry, counter hunger, and enhance security in Africa, a continent that has been chronically plagued by piracy and terrorism. He said Monday that this money had already been granted or earmarked, so the latest announcement represented a second round of $60 billion.

At a business event ahead of the summit, Xi said China had "full respect for Africa's own will" and wasn't interested in forming an "exclusive club".

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. Foreign direct investment has grown even faster over the past decade, at about 40 percent a year, it found. He said that at all times, China's relationship with Africa was guided by the principles of "the principle of greater good and shared good faith" because the country valued sincerity and equality in cooperation.

Xi made no mention of the political and debt concerns that overshadow some "Belt and Road" projects.

During a visit to China last month, Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed warned against "a new version of colonialism", as he cancelled a series of Chinese-backed infrastructure projects worth $22 billion.




The Chinese leader pointed out that his country will seek to have both sides leverage each other's strengths, not to interfere in African affairs and only believes in giving more and taking less while supporting development programs on the continent.

One of the biggest contentious issues between African countries and China has been on trade and in the three-year plan, Beijing had promised under the China-Africa Trade and Investment Facilitation Plan to carry out 50 trade programmes to improve Africa's capacity for internal and external trade and investment.

In May, Kenya rejected the China-EAC economic trade agreement, arguing that it was protecting its manufacturing sector from China's cheaper and more efficient producers.

But Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who now chairs the African Union, said that rather than viewing the investment as a "debt trap", other countries should be asking why they're not giving Africa as much assistance as China.

African presidents in attendance included South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa, Egypt's Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Zambia's Edgar Lungu, and Gabon's Ali Bongo.

Chinese state media has been aggressively explaining why such investment is good for the continent - and positioning Xi as the champion of the African people.

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

Last week was a busy moment for African heads of state and government as they received representatives of former colonial masters Britain and Germany who wanted to boost trade and diplomatic presence in the continent. China welcomes Africa's participation in the Silk Road International League of Theaters, the Silk Road International Museum Alliance and the Network of Silk Road Art Festivals.

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