Xi maps out Africa blueprint

By Yang Jingjie Source:Global Times Published: 2013-3-26 0:58:01


Chinese President <a href=Xi Jinping (L) delivers a speech at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on March 25, 2013. Photo: Xinhua" src="http://www.globaltimes.cn/Portals/0/attachment/2011/319a98ea-f1fc-4055-ac52-f06f3e5b6f7f.jpg">
Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) delivers a speech at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on March 25, 2013. Photo: Xinhua


Chinese President Xi Jinping Monday vowed to strengthen Sino-African ties and continue providing no-strings-attached aid to the African continent, during a state visit to Tanzania, the second leg of the leader's first overseas trip.

The thoughts on Sino-African relations laid out in Xi's speech have been interpreted as a blueprint for China's Africa policies in the coming decade, as the country has just completed its leadership transition.

Addressing audiences at a new conference hall in Dar es Salaam built by China, the president reviewed the friendly foundations of Sino-African ties over the past six decades, and called the two sides "a community of shared destiny."

Xi said Sino-African relations now stand at a new historical starting point, vowing that under the new circumstances, the importance of bilateral ties and shared interests would increase, not shrink, and China would intensify rather than weaken relations with Africa.

"Unity and cooperation with African countries have always been an important foundation for China's foreign policy. This will never change, not even when China grows stronger and enjoys higher international status," Xi said.

"With the growth of its economic and overall strength, China will continue to offer, as always, necessary assistance to Africa, with no political strings attached," the president vowed.

He said China will provide a $20 billion credit-line to the continent over the next three years.

Liu Guijin, China's former special envoy for African affairs, told the Global Times on Monday that the president's speech indicated continuity in China's Africa policy, while there will be some fine-tuning  to adapt to new challenges, especially on the security front.

"Africa belongs to the African people. In developing relations with Africa, all countries should respect Africa's dignity and independence," Xi said.

Under the precondition of "no intervention in internal affairs," China may extend its assistance by training African peacekeepers, providing weaponry and contributing more to the African Union (AU) Peace Fund, said Liu, describing the policy as more "flexible."

It would also support the AU and other sub-regional organizations to play a bigger role in maintaining peace and stability on the continent, and speak for Africa in the international arena, he added.

During the speech, Xi also highlighted China's cooperation with Africa in business and trade. He said the Sino-African trade volume approached $200 billion in 2012, and saw more than 1.5 million mutual visits between the two sides during that period of time. By the end of last year, China's accumulated direct investment in the continent surpassed $15 billion.

However, China's expanding investment and influence in Africa has triggered concerns both in and outside the continent, with the West accusing it of pursuing "neocolonialism" and grabbing resources from African countries.

Responding to the accusations, Liu acknowledged that the current structure of Sino-African trade is not satisfying, but noted that it is a problem that also existed in Africa's trade with Europe and the US, in which African countries mainly exported resources and imported finished goods.

As Africa is now the world's fastest-growing market, developed economies are gradually shifting their focus to tap into the consumer market there, bringing more competition to Chinese businesses.

Liu perceived the competition as a good thing for Africa, which would bring more options for the continent. "Our cooperation is equal, mutually beneficial and not exclusive," he said.

Chen Yulai, a researcher with the Institute of West Asian & African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that Chinese enterprises do have a competitive edge in the market given the good foundation laid in past decades; however, they face more challenges now.

"Some Chinese enterprises are short-sighted and only focus on profits. They pose a threat to long-term relations between China and Africa," warned Chen.

Xi and his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete signed more than a dozen trade and cooperation deals.

According to Reuters, the agreements included plans to co-develop a new port and industrial zone complex, a concessionary loan for communications infrastructure and an interest free loan to the Tanzanian government.


Posted in: Diplomacy

blog comments powered by Disqus