China pledges $60bn to Africa, rejects ‘debt trap’ claims
Chinese President Xi Jinping has offered tens of billions of dollars in financial support for African countries and written off debt for the continent’s poorer nations.
Addressing African leaders at a summit in Beijing, Xi said the $60 billion offered will include $15 billion of aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans, a credit line of $20 billion, a $10 billion special fund for China-Africa development, and a $5 billion special fund for imports from Africa.
He added that Chinese companies will be encouraged to invest no less than $10 billion in the continent in the next three years.
The Chinese leader explained that government debt from China’s interest-free loans due by the end of 2018 will be written off for indebted poor African countries, as well as for developing nations in the continent’s interior and small island nations.
“China-Africa cooperation must give Chinese and African people tangible benefits and successes that can be seen, that can be felt,” he said.
The president warned against funds going towards “vanity projects” and denied engaging in “debt trap” diplomacy. “China’s cooperation with Africa is clearly targeted at the major bottlenecks to development. Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects but in places where they count the most.”
According to Xi, China will carry out 50 projects on green development and environmental protection in Africa, focusing on fighting climate change, desertification, and wildlife protection.
Beijing will set up a peace and security fund, while continuing to provide free military assistance to the African Union, Xi pledged.
Data from the China-Africa Research Initiative at Washington’s Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies showed that Beijing loaned around $125 billion to the continent from 2000 to 2016.
The country’s ambitious ‘Belt and Road’ initiative has already seen billions of dollars loaned to countries in Asia and Africa for roads, railways, ports, and other major infrastructure projects.
China has also been Africa’s largest trading partner for nine years in a row. Trade turnover has grown from a mere $765 million in 1978 to $170 billion in 2017 – a more than 200-fold increase.
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