China offers Africa billions, 'no strings attached'

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses a business breakfast in Beijing with business leaders

Dozens of African leaders met with Xi ahead of the conference.

The participants are looking for ways to "advance common growth and development", said South Africa's foreign minister, Lindiwe Sisulu.

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. Djibouti has become heavily dependent on Chinese financing after China opened its first overseas military base in the Horn of Africa country previous year, a powerful signal of the continent's strategic importance to Beijing.

He said China will launch an infrastructure initiative with Africa and will support those companies involved in infrastructure development in Africa. A $5 billion special fund will also be set up only for African imports.

In a major blow to China's ambitions, Malaysia recently canceled Chinese-financed projects worth more than $20 billion, saying they were unnecessary and would create an unsustainable debt burden.

He pointed out that energy, transport, telecommunications and tapping cross-border water resources would be on China's radar in the next phase of Africa's infrastructural forays.

Speaking earlier at a business forum, Xi said China had to be careful about where money was spent.

In 2015, President Xi Jinping under the China-Africa infrastructure plan promised to fund the establishment of five transportation universities in Africa.

Beijing has also fended off criticism it is only interested in resource extraction to feed its own booming economy, that the projects it funds have poor environmental safeguards, and that too numerous workers for them are flown in from China rather than using African labor.

He highlighted the Liberian government's firm position on the One-China Policy, and said his government is willing to increase exchanges at all levels, emphasizing that the two countries should continue to show mutual understanding and support each other on issues involving their respective core interests and major concerns.

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

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"China's investment in Africa does not come with any political conditions attached, and will neither interfere in internal politics, nor make demands that people feel are hard to fulfill", Xi said during a keynote address to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on Monday. Last year, China-Africa trade volume was $170 billion.

Ramaphosa noted that Africa exports its minerals to China while the Asian country exports to the continent what its factories produce.

The country meant to bring 200 young Africans to China for a skills exchange programme.

"Western media deliberately portray Africans in misery for collaborating with China and they appear to have discovered big news by finding occasional complaints in the African media about Sino-Africa cooperation".

Every African country is represented at the business forum apart from eSwatini, self-ruled Taiwan's last African ally that has so far rejected China's overtures to ditch Taipei and recognize Beijing.

African presidents in attendance included South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa, Egypt's Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Zambia's Edgar Lungu, and Gabon's Ali Bongo.

There are some controversial guests.

Bashir is wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide related to the war in Darfur.

Chinese state-owned companies have aggressively pursued large investments in Africa, whose vast resources have helped fuel China's transformation into an economic powerhouse.

"China has always had reservations about the International Criminal Court's indictment and arrest order against Sudan's president". China is not a party to the court.

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