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04 September 2018, 12:36 | Vera Richards
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China is offering US$60 billion in financial support and a debt write-off to impoverished African nations- no strings attached, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday.
Such concerns have grown as Xi extended his Belt and Road plan across much of the globe and tied it to his ambition of completing his country's return to great power status.
The massive scheme is aimed at improving Chinese access to foreign markets and resources, and boosting Beijing's influence overseas.
At the last three-yearly gathering in Johannesburg in 2015, Xi announced $60 billion of assistance and loans for Africa.
The absent leaders, according to checks by Africanews, are John Magufuli of Tanzania who is represented by Prime Minister; Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi who is represented by his second vice-president; Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo who is represented by his Prime Minister; Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, Abdul Aziz Bouteflika of Algeria and King Mswati of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) who has no representation at all at the summit.
Ramaphosa said the objectives behind the China and Africa economic cooperation extended beyond the Chinese and African people and included the aspiration to build a shared future for all mankind through leadership, vision and partnership. Djibouti has become heavily dependent on Chinese financing after China opened its first overseas military base in the Horn of Africa country a year ago, a powerful signal of the continent's strategic importance to Beijing.
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The money would be focused on infrastructure to help speed African countries' development, not on "vanity projects", Xi said.
"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", it said.
Belt and Road, Xi said, "is not a scheme to form an exclusive club or bloc against others".
Chinese officials say this year's summit will strengthen Africa's role in Xi's Belt and Road initiative to link China by sea and land with Southeast and Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa through an infrastructure network modeled on the old Silk Road.
He announced that China would exempt some African nations from outstanding debts in the form of free Chinese government loans due by the end of 2018.
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. The leaders "refute the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa, as our detractors would have us believe", he told the forum.
With all these developments, Africa Beyond Aid crusader Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, maintains that "Africa is not a zero sum game". Last year, China-Africa trade volume was $170 billion.
"Africa is still at the initial stage of industrialization, and the process is very likely to collapse without sustainable investment growth", the state-linked Global Times reported Monday.
President Xi then expressed the hope that as a former world football star, deeply admired by his compatriots, President Weah would use his special influence to promote sport and youth exchanges between China and Liberia.
"This obviously limits ability African countries to extract full value of abundant natural resources and create work for its people".
Xi told him on Sunday that "foreign forces" should not interfere in Sudan's internal affairs, China's Foreign Ministry said.
During the meeting, President Buhari had said he was not afraid of a free and fair election in 2019.
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Chinese state-owned companies have aggressively pursued large investments in Africa, whose vast resources have helped fuel China's transformation into an economic powerhouse.
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