Africa: China's White Paper On Africa Takes On the West

The Chinese government is promising to break new ground in ties with Africa, ahead of a crucial summit between the continent and the Asian country that kicks off this Sunday.
In a White Paper published by Beijing’s State Council Information Office, China will strengthen co-operation with the continent to create what the paper calls a “partnership of equals.”
That stance will build from President Xi Jinping’s Africa policy said to be based on “sincerity, real results, amity and good faith” in pursuing shared interests, while remaining entirely apolitical.
“China will continue its support for African countries’ efforts to resolve their issues in their own way, and make a greater contribution to peace and security in Africa. China will continue its firm support for African countries’ efforts to explore development paths suited to their national conditions,” the paper said.
Qualified exemption
“China is committed to integrating its own development closely with Africa’s development, and the Chinese with African people’s interests. By so doing, China sincerely hopes African countries grow stronger and that African life will get better.”
But, the White Paper still offered a subtle threat: only countries with diplomatic relations with China will benefit. In Africa, 53 of 54 independent nations have diplomatic relations with Beijing, with eSwatini the only one that still recognises Taiwan as independent of China.
However, Beijing says the debt exemption announced earlier will only apply to those that recognise Beijing, are landlocked, are heavily indebted and are developing. In fact the exemption only applies to interest-free loans, meaning concessional lending will continue to be Africa’s burden for now.
The Paper was published two days to the upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, a three-yearly conference between the continent and China that has been held since 2000.
This time, it will happen in Senegal, but President Xi will address the Summit via video link, keeping away from international travel for more than 600 days now.
But Beijing was still wary of the West in the paper.
“In response to Western anti-China forces’ mudslinging and false accusations on China in regard to Xinjiang- and Hong Kong-related issues, African countries, alongside other developing countries, have voiced their collective or individual support for China’s position,” the Paper said of events at the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee.
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In return, China has offered to “unequivocally oppose protectionism and unilateralism” and support an increase “in the representation and say of developing countries in the international governance system, especially African countries.”
In the last FOCAC Summit in Beijing in 2018, China had promised $60 billion worth of investments in Africa, including $10 billion directly from Chinese firms. By October this year, Beijing said 70 percent of that money had been utilised. Ahead of Sunday, China said it will raise investments in infrastructure, technology, agrarian revolution, health and education.
It promised to add on its aid to Africa, which had reached $42 billion. But that support often came as grants, loans and concessional loans, the latter being an expensive burden that has seen a number of African countries struggle to service repayments.
Yet Beijing says that money also helped put up 13,000km of railway, 100,000km of roads, 80 large-scale power projects and funded more than 130 medical facilities, 45 sports stadia and 170 schools, and trained 160,000 professionals on the continent.
This time, China says it is encouraging its companies to increase and optimise investment in Africa, and providing support in financing and export credit insurance for eligible projects, targeting to elevating the 21 percent of Africa’s external trade it controls.
Read the original article on East African.
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