China's Xi offers US$60 billion Africa aid, says "no strings attached"

Cyril Ramaphosa

A September 1, 2018 dispatch from Beijing China where President George Weah is now attending the 2018 Beijing Summit on China-Africa Cooperation says President Weah and Chinese President Xi Jinping have signed two cooperation agreements totaling US$54 million (320 million RMB) for the construction of two overpasses at SKD Boulevard and the Ministerial Complex, while the other is the provision of emergency food aid.

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.

"Since its establishment, the FOCAC has upheld the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and become a forum featuring equality, practicality and efficiency, President Xi Jinping, will deliver a keynote speech, comprehensively expounding on China's new ideas and proposals for enhancing its relations with Africa, as well as announce China's new actions and measures for its practical cooperation with Africa". President Xi stressed that out of the $60 billion that were on offer, $15 billion would be disbursed as aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans.

"We are ready to make a greater contribution to support cultural diversity in the world", he said, citing as a target exchange programme in culture, arts, education sports, think tanks and media, focusing on young people to strengthen the bond between the people of China and Africa.

President Yoweri Museveni was among several African heads of state who attended the opening ceremony of the summit.

Nevertheless, he received a warm greeting from Xi, who told him he "welcomes Sudan's participation in the Belt and Road" and "opposes foreign interference in Sudan's internal affairs", Xinhua reported Sunday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the High-level Dialogue between Chinese and African Leaders and Business and Industry Representatives at the sixth China-Africa Entrepreneur Conference at the Beijing National Convention Center in Beijing, China September 3, 2018. "Is China unfairly exploiting Africa like the others before it?"

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, now the chair of the African Union, dismissed such concerns, saying talk of "debt traps" were attempts to discourage African-Chinese interactions. "Our growing ties with China do not come at anyone's expense", he told the summit.

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"With the foundation we have built through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and an established relationship, I am certain that we will succeed", said Ramaphosa.

"This means that China is likely to even get a larger share of Kenya's market once we enter into a free trade arrangement", Mr Kiptoo said, explaining Nairobi's opposition of the deal.

The money would be focused on infrastructure to help speed African countries' development, not on "vanity projects", Xi said.

While Beijing-backed investment has provided African governments much-needed infrastructure without the West's political and fiscal demands, it has also generated complaints about China's preference for loans and reluctance to use local labor.

He said China would also boost security help and cooperation with the region.

"The progress that has been made in the last 18 years clearly demonstrated the tangible and lasting benefits of FOCAC to the people of Africa and indeed to the people of the People's Republic of China as well". A total of 50 security help programmes would be implemented, ranging from United Nations peacekeeping missions to fighting piracy, he said.

China loaned around £97 billion ($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. A trade facilitation initiative to increase imports from Africa was also on the cards including 50,000 government scholarship and 50,000 training opportunities for seminars and workshops.

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