HUANG ZHANG & SAID ABOUBAKER
ALLEGATIONS against China, raised mainly by the United States after the Asian powerhouse solidified its relations with Africa, are seen as reflecting the panic mode gripping Washington as it loses grip on the continent to its economic rival.
A litany of allegations has trailed the just-ended Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC), attended by over 50 heads of state from Africa.
Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, who jointly chaired the summit with Cyril Ramaphosa, president of Africa’s most developed economy, South Africa, pledged a whopping $60 billion (R921 billion) in financing to Africa.
Barely three years ago, China poured a hefty $60 billion, bringing the total financial support for Africa to a staggering $120 billion.
“The (latest) financing will be provided in the form of government assistance as well as investment and financing by financial institutions and companies,” Jinping said.
The funding by the world’s largest economy will include $15 billion in grants, interest and concessionary loans, $20 billion in credit lines, $10 billion for setting up of a special fund, and $45 billion for financing imports from Africa, and $10 billion for companies in China to invest in Africa in the next three years.
African Union chairman and Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, hailed China as a trustworthy partner.
“The China-Africa partnership has grown and is aligned with the AU’s Agenda 2063,” he said.
He said it was high time Africa improved project management and increased participation in the private sector.
“We have to articulate the continent’s priorities, with focus to connectivity to the global world,” Kagame said.
China constructed the ultra-modern AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, handed over in 2012.
“The reformed AU will be more effective going forward. Growing ties with China don’t come at anyone’s expense, the gains are enjoyed by everyone who does business in our continent,” Kagame said.
However, an inventory of accusations against China have emerged from America, the world’s biggest economy.
It is alleged China’s loans to Africa were coming with “steep” and “opaque” conditions. America has appeared to sympathise with the African continent for supposedly “sinking deeper into Beijing’s carefully laid debt trap.”
Key US ally, the United Kingdom, had alleged Beijing was increasingly selling Chinese manufactured weapons and military equipment in East Africa.
China also stands accused of seeking to control a greater share of the weapons trade in African continent in order to protect its extensive investments in infrastructure.
According to allegations carried in a Business Risk Intelligence press statement released the day FOCAC ended, China’s military logistics base in Djibouti was preparing to facilitate large-scale shipments of weapons and military equipment across the regional countries comprising Djibouti, Sudan and South Sudan.
“Djibouti’s own strategically important port, which lies in a major shipping lane, is also set to move towards the centre of the regional arms trade,” the statement read.
The Business Risk Intelligence stated for instance, the tiny country of Djibouti is home to the most significant American military base in Africa.
Thanks to Chinese loans, the statement read, Djibouti’s debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio surged from 50 percent to 85 percent between 2014 and 2016.
“If Djibouti were to default and relinquish the port that resupplies the US base, American military capability in Africa and the Middle East could be seriously threatened,” the statement read.
Washington also bemoaned China’s debt diplomacy shuts out opportunities for US businesses by setting out technical specifications for projects like high-speed railways and wireless networks in a manner believed entirely favoured Chinese firms.
Jonathan Hillman, a fellow at the Center for International and Strategic Studies, said the combined effect of these efforts would push the US away from its current position in the global economy and move China toward the centre.
Speaking at the forum in Beijing, Ramaphosa said, “FOCAC refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa, as our detractors would have us believe.”
Ramaphosa said the Sino-African relations were founded on equality, trust, mutual respect and mutual benefit.
– CAJ News