China pledges another US$60bn to Africa as leaders meet in Beijing

China pledges another US$60bn to Africa as leaders meet in Beijing

China pledges another US$60bn to Africa as leaders meet in Beijing

In his inaugural address at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), President Xi Jinping was authoritative in messaging that Beijing had become the locomotive of Africa's all-round progress.

In the recent five years, China-Africa relations have gained practical results, bringing tangible benefits to both peoples, including unprecedentedly frequent high-level exchanges and strengthened political guidance. "Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects, but in places where they count the most".

China will carry out 50 projects on green development and environmental protection in Africa, focusing on fighting climate change, desertification and wildlife protection, Xi said.

President Xi said the initiative was not, "a scheme to form an exclusive club or bloc against others".

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

Chinese 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. "Our growing ties with China do not come at anyone's expense", he told the summit.

He said China attached no political strings to its investments in Africa under the initiative; nor did it interfere in the internal affairs of African countries.

Though the loans are due by the end of the year, the amount owed by indebted countries and developing nations across the continent will be written off, Xi said.

Xi said China would set up a China-Africa peace and security fund and that a total of 50 "security assistance" programs will be carried out, such as United Nations peacekeeping missions, fighting piracy and combating terrorism.

Chinese companies will be encouraged to invest no less than £7.7 billion ($10 billion) in the continent in the next three years, he said.

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. Amid loud applause, President Xi announced that China will train 1,000 high-calibre Africans, provide 50,000 government scholarships, sponsor seminars and workshop that would benefit 50,000 Africans, and invite 2,000 African youths to visit China for exchanges.

"The rapid growth in Sino-African trade made China Africa's largest trading partner, he said".

"The Forum, in which the Chinese and African leaders will exchange in-depth views on the development of China-Africa relations and worldwide and regional issues of common concern, has President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, as the African co-chair", Xiaoliang said.

He pointed out that energy, transport, telecommunications and tapping cross-border water resources would be on China's radar in the next phase of Africa's infrastructural forays.

African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki acknowledged that concerns have been expressed about debt, but said "the risks must be put into perspective" as "Africa's financing needs are such that it must seize every opportunity offered to it".

"Another perspective.is that those criticising China on debt give too little", said Kagame in an interview with the official Xinhua news agency.

"We export to China what we extract from the earth and China imports to us what it makes from its factories", said Ramaphosa, describing uneven arrangement as limiting, given Africa's quest to extract full value from its natural resources. 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. "Is China unfairly exploiting Africa like the others before it?"

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