Handful African presidents not attending 2018 FOCAC summit in China

Handful African presidents not attending 2018 FOCAC summit in China

Troy Powers
September 4, 2018

A September 1, 2018 dispatch from Beijing China where President George Weah is now attending the 2018 Beijing Summit on China-Africa Cooperation says President Weah and Chinese President Xi Jinping have signed two cooperation agreements totaling US$54 million (320 million RMB) for the construction of two overpasses at SKD Boulevard and the Ministerial Complex, while the other is the provision of emergency food aid.

The financing will be provided in the form of government assistance as well as investment and financing by financial institutions and companies, Xi said in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

He said that those plans have brought benefits to the people of China and Africa and have elevated the cooperation to greater heights. "Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects, but in places where they count the most".

The initiatives include infrastructure connectivity, green development, and health care, as well as peace and security.

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. Dozens of African leaders have met with Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the conference.

But South African President Cyril Ramaphosa defended China's involvement on the continent, saying FOCAC "refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa as our detractors would have us believe".

Addressing the summit, Rwandan President and African Union chairman Paul Kagame said a stronger Africa was an opportunity for investment, "rather than a problem or a threat".

China's outreach to Africa aims to build trade, investment and political ties with a continent often seen as overlooked by the US and other Western nations.

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.

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But Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who now chairs the African Union, said that rather than viewing the investment as a "debt trap", other countries should be asking why they're not giving Africa as much assistance as China. Chinese companies would also be encouraged to invest at least $10 billion in Africa over the next three years, state media reported.

Xi said China would support the continent in developing a single African air transport market and spoke of direct flights between China and Africa.

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

Some Chinese manufacturers are expanding to Africa but the bulk of Chinese investment goes into mining or construction of roads and other infrastructure.

Xi said the partnership should "increase political and policy dialogue, enhance mutual understanding and support and boost coordination on major global and regional issues [to] enable us to uphold our common interests".

In May, Kenya rejected the China-EAC economic trade agreement, arguing that it was protecting its manufacturing sector from China's cheaper and more efficient producers.

"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. "Much of what is imported from China is finished goods", he said.

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