Speakers at the opening of the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) on Monday, took turns to dispel claims that neo-colonialism is taking hold in Africa, with China’s huge, cheap loans to the continent.
They defended China’s continued lending to Africa, saying Beijing instead has been a partner in boosting social and economic development on the continent.
In his keynote speech at the summit, President Xi Jinping offered another $60 billion in financing for Africa and wrote off some debts for poorer African nations.
The Chinese leader said the new $60 billion 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.
Chinese companies are also encouraged to make at least 10 billion U.S. dollars of investment in Africa in the next three years.
President Xi also announced that the China would implement eight major initiatives with African countries in the next three years and beyond, covering fields such as industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, and green development.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who co-chaired the summit with President Xi, refuted claims that China is forcing African countries into a debt trap, but said Beijing has been a partner in African development.
“Since its launch in the year 2000, FOCAC has grown both in extent and scope,” he said. “It serves as an effective platform for South-South cooperation focused on the tangible improvement of the quality of lives of the people of Africa,” Ramaphosa said in his remarks at the summit held at the Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
“In the values that it promotes, in the manner that it operates, and the impact it has on African countries, FOCAC refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa, as our detractors would have us believe.”
He said Africa and China are working together to “advance growth and development on the African continent” and called Sino-Africa relations a “dynamic force in the international arena.”
“Africa is not a zero-sum game and our growing ties with China do not come at anyone’s expense. Indeed the gains are enjoyed by everyone who does business on our continent,” said Rwandan President Paul Kagame, in his remarks at the summit.
China, he said, sees a stronger Africa as an opportunity rather than a problem. He described Beijing’s engagement in Africa as “deeply transformational both internally and with respect to Africa’s global position.”
The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat said China-Africa cooperation has become a solid foundation for new international order.
Other speakers at a High-Level Dialogue between Chinese and African Leaders and Business Representatives earlier on Monday, expressed African readiness to further cement its partnership with China under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.