Hefty aid con­tri­bu­tion helps end talk of wan­ing in­ter­est

China Daily (Canada) - - ANALYSIS - In Johannesburg

an­drew­mody@chi­nadaily. com.cn

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has said he wants to raise the China-Africa re­la­tion­ship to a new level. He made the com­ment at the con­clu­sion of the Sec­ond Sum­mit of the Fo­rum on China Africa Co­op­er­a­tion in Johannesburg.

He told heads of state and gov­ern­ment as well as other rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the 50 African FOCAC mem­ber coun­tries on Dec 5 that he wanted to forge a new “com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic co-op­er­a­tive part­ner­ship” with the con­ti­nent.

“China and Africa are im­por­tant forces for main­tain­ing world peace and tran­quil­ity and pro­mot­ing world de­vel­op­ment and pros­per­ity. We have the ca­pa­bil­ity to play a big­ger role in in­ter­na­tional af­fairs,” he de­clared.

The pres­i­dent’s speech co­in­cided with the pub­li­ca­tion of two doc­u­ments, the Johannesburg Dec­la­ra­tion and the Ac­tion Plan, which were the sum­ma­tion of two days of dis­cus­sions.

Th­ese along with the $60 bil­lion of aid and fund­ing pledged by Xi at the open­ing of the sum­mit — a tripling of the com­mit­ment at the last FOCAC meet­ing in Beijing in 2012 — ended any doubts China was los­ing in­ter­est in its re­la­tion­ship with the con­ti­nent.

There had been sug­ges­tions be­fore the sum­mit that China was now more in­ter­ested in ce­ment­ing ties with the de­vel­oped world.

China’s direct in­vest­ment in Africa in the first half of the year had also dis­ap­pointed, fall­ing 40 per­cent year-on-year to $1.19 bil­lion.

Trade be­tween China and Africa, how­ever, was per­haps a bet­ter indi­ca­tor the re­la­tion­ship was still in full flow, with the fig­ure reach­ing $220 bil­lion last year and head­ing to­ward $400 bil­lion by 2020, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial Chi­nese fore­casts re­vealed at a fo­rum in Beijing on Nov 9.

The Johannesburg Dec­la­ra­tion placed em­pha­sis on se­cu­rity, with China and Africa pledg­ing to “con­tinue to sup­port each other on se­cu­rity mat­ters and main­tain peace and se­cu­rity”.

With 30 agenda items, it made clear the com­mon de­sire to up­grade the re­la­tion­ship be­tween China and Africa and re­it­er­ated Xi’s call for a new “strate­gic part­ner­ship” as well as wel­com­ing the set­ting up of the new BRICS bank and de­mand­ing greater rep­re­sen­ta­tion for both China and African in in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions.

It also called for more South­South co-op­er­a­tion and an align­ment of FOCAC’s aims with those of the Africa Union’s 2063 Agenda and the United Na­tion’s 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment.

The Ac­tion Plan re­flected one of the big themes of the sum­mit, that of China play­ing a more con­certed role in the in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion of the con­ti­nent and Chi­nese com­pa­nies set­ting up more man­u­fac­tur­ing bases.

Other mea­sures in­cluded greater Chi­nese in­vest­ment in African agri­cul­tural mod­ern­iza­tion and in­fra­struc­ture as well as ini­tia­tives in fi­nan­cial ser­vices, green de­vel­op­ment, trade and in­vest­ment, poverty re­duc­tion, pub­lic health and peo­pleto-peo­ple ex­changes.

Thomas Boni Yayi, pres­i­dent of Benin, West Africa, said the tone was set for the sum­mit with the pledge of ex­tra aid in the form of con­ces­sion­ary loans, grants and de­vel­op­ment fi­nance. He told the me­dia it was a bold ges­ture for China to make when its own econ­omy was slow­ing.

“That China is mo­bi­liz­ing this fund­ing to as­sist Africa was very en­cour­ag­ing. I would like to con­grat­u­late China for making the ef­fort.”

Uhuru Keny­atta, the pres­i­dent of Kenya, said the sum­mit sent a very pos­i­tive mes­sage.

“The meet­ing was very good and very pos­i­tive, and the state­ment was very clear and cat­e­gor­i­cal on the im­por­tance of our re­la­tion­ship.”

It was up to Africa to make the most of the Chi­nese of­fer of in­vest­ment, Keny­atta said.

“Not just for Chi­nese in­vest­ment but for all in­vest­ment… What we are try­ing to do is de­velop a fo­cus on in­fra­struc­ture and ed­u­ca­tion that is part and par­cel of a con­ti­nent preparing it­self for much more in­bound in­vest­ment.”

Barn­aba Mar­ial Ben­jamin, the for­eign min­is­ter of South Su­dan, said it had been a suc­cess­ful sum­mit but there were many press­ing is­sues for Africa that would not be im­me­di­ately re­solved.

“This $60 bil­lion of fund­ing for de­vel­op­ment in Africa has to be wel­comed, but it must also in­clude par­tic­i­pa­tion of African busi­ness so it re­flects a gen­uine win-win sit­u­a­tion.

“The down­sides for Africa re­main tremen­dous chal­lenges such as tech­nol­ogy and also other is­sues such as con­flicts.”

David Shinn, a for­mer US am­bas­sador to Ethiopia and Burkino Faso, and co-au­thor with Joshua Eisen­man of China and Africa, a de­tailed coun­tryby-coun­try anal­y­sis of the re­la­tion­ship, said the pledges on se­cu­rity re­flected the re­al­ties of China’s en­gage­ment with the con­ti­nent.

“I sus­pect China gave more at­ten­tion to se­cu­rity is­sues at this sum­mit be­cause of China’s grow­ing phys­i­cal pres­ence in Africa and larger num­bers of Chi­nese na­tion­als now find­ing them­selves in harm’s way.”

For all in­vest­ment, what we are try­ing to do is de­velop a fo­cus on in­fra­struc­ture and ed­u­ca­tion that is part and par­cel of a con­ti­nent preparing it­self for much more in­bound in­vest­ment.”

pres­i­dent of Kenya

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