China to give $60 billion in financial support to Africa, Xi says

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.

"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".

Ahead of the presidential address, Chinese officials had cited a 2017 study by McKinsey, a USA consulting firm, which had spotlighted that China has become Africa's most important and unrivalled economic partner.

Xi said China would increase cooperation with the continent, including expanding imports of products beyond resources.

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.

Belt and Road, Xi said, "is not a scheme to form an exclusive club or bloc against others".

The country meant to bring 200 young Africans to China for a skills exchange programme.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa is of the view that as China expands its grip of the continent, more local partnerships need to be encouraged between Chinese and African entrepreneurs. "Our relationship with China does not come at expense of any other".

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Africa is a vital front in Xi's fight against such skepticism, receiving $12 billion of Chinese lending in 2015, compared with just over $100 million in 2000, according to data from the China-Africa Research Initiative.

Xi, addressing leaders at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, said the new £45 billion ($60 billion) will include £11.6 billion ($15 billion) of aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans, a credit line of £15.5 billion ($20 billion), a £7.7 billion ($10 billion) special fund for China-Africa development, and a £3.8 billion ($5 billion) special fund for imports from Africa.

Xi said that future of cooperation should focus on young people and the initiatives that China would drive were created to help young people in Africa. The commitment comes on top of another US$60 billion announced at the summit three years ago. The FOCAC follow-up mechanisms are built at the Ministerial Conference, which is held every three years; the Senior Officials Follow-up Meeting and the Senior Officials Preparatory Meeting for the Ministerial Conference are held respectively in the year and a few days before the Ministerial Conference is held; and the consultations between the African Diplomatic Corps in China and the Secretariat of the Chinese Follow-up Committee are held at least twice a year.

He added that China values sincerity and trust in pursuit of partnership cooperation and has neither any attachments to the strength in the continent nor seek any gains while cooperating with Africa.

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

Speaking earlier at a business forum, Xi said China had to be careful about where money was spent.

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.

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.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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