China raises fears of 'new colonialism' with $60 billion investment across Africa


African leaders are going to Beijing for the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) Summit, hoping to get financing for their mega infrastructure projects.

President Weah said that the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Liberia has brought perceptible benefits to the Liberian people. "Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects, but in places where they count the most".

He said the $60 billion commitment from Xi would boost Africa's goals for industrial development, infrastructure development, human resources development, health care, the green economy as well as peace and stability.

African and other Asian leaders have welcomed "Belt and Road" but some projects have prompted complaints about debt and other problems.

A study by the Center for Global Development, a USA think-tank, found "serious concerns" about the sustainability of sovereign debt in eight Asian, European and African countries receiving Belt and Road funds.

However, President Buhari and other leaders of African countries, including Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki, led delegations to the summit, and Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Guterres, as a special guest, while 27 worldwide and African organizations are present as observers.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, now the chair of the African Union, dismissed such concerns, saying talk of "debt traps" were attempts to discourage African-Chinese interactions. China's exports to Africa grew by 2.7 per cent to $94.74 billion, while its imports rose by 32.8 per cent to $75.26 billion.

All but six of the over 40 African leaders and heads of state and government attended the 3rd Summit chaired by the Communist leader Xi Jinping to definitely tighten China's grip over Africa and to deepen Africa's dependency on China.

Though the loans are due by the end of the year, the amount owed by indebted countries and developing nations across the continent will be written off, Xi said.

Xi further announced that China will support the youth from Africa by offering them scholarships, training high calibre young people from the continent and launching Africa innovation centre and that of environment.

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Chinese companies will be encouraged to invest no less than £7.7 billion ($10 billion) in the continent in the next three years, he said.

When FOCAC last met in 2015, African leaders and those in China set a goal to double trade to $400 billion by 2020.

"China's investment in Africa comes with no political strings attached, " said Xi.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the relationship between China and Africa is premised on the fundamental right of the African people to determine their own future.

"We respect, love and support Africa", he said, adding that China would never interfere with the African people's chosen developmental path or its internal affairs, including through imposing its will.

China has provided aid to Africa since the Cold War, but Beijing's presence in the region has grown exponentially with its emergence as a global trading power.

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

"Another that those criticising China on debt give too little", said Kagame in an interview with the official Xinhua news agency.

"This obviously limits ability African countries to extract full value of abundant natural resources and create work for its people".

State media has accused the West of sour grapes over China's prominent role in Africa and has angrily rejected claims of forcing African countries into a debt trap. Locals in other countries have complained about the practice of using Chinese labour for building projects and what are perceived as sweetheart deals for Chinese companies.