Chi­nese leader Xi be­gins trip through Africa

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Nation & World - BY BABACAR DIONE AND CARA ANNA As­so­ci­ated Press

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping ar­rived in Africa on Satur­day on a four­na­tion visit seek­ing deeper mil­i­tary and eco­nomic ties while his ri­val in a bit­ter trade war, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, shows lit­tle in­ter­est in the world’s sec­ond most pop­u­lous con­ti­nent.

This is Xi’s first trip abroad since he was ap­pointed to a sec­ond term in March with term lim­its re­moved, al­low­ing him to rule for as long as he wants. That rang fa­mil­iar to some of Africa’s lon­gen­trenched lead­ers.

China is al­ready Africa’s largest trad­ing part­ner, and it opened its first mil­i­tary base on the con­ti­nent last year in the Horn of Africa na­tion of Dji­bouti, which this month launched a China-backed free trade zone it calls the largest in Africa. Af­ter sur­pass­ing the U.S. in arms sales to Africa in re­cent years, China this month hosted dozens of African mil­i­tary of­fi­cials for the first China-Africa de­fense fo­rum.

Xi is stop­ping in Sene­gal and then Rwanda ahead of his par­tic­i­pa­tion in a sum­mit of the BRICS emerg­ing economies in South Africa that starts on Wed­nes­day.

The sum­mit comes amid the United States’ bil­lion-dol­lar trade war with China and tough trade ne­go­ti­a­tions with other key eco­nomic part­ners. Last month the foreign min­is­ters of BRICS mem­bers Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China and South Africa crit­i­cized what they called a “new wave of pro­tec­tion­ism,” say­ing U.S. mea­sures un­der­mine global trade and eco­nomic growth.

Xi’s Africa visit also high­lights China’s sweep­ing “Belt and Road” ini­tia­tive that en­vis­ages link­ing Beijing to Africa, Europe and other parts of Asia via a net­work of ports, rail­ways, power plants and eco­nomic zones.

While such high-pro­file projects bring badly needed in­fra­struc­ture and gen­er­ate eco­nomic growth, U.S. of­fi­cials and oth­ers have warned that African na­tions are putting them­selves into debt to China. Its gov­ern­ment, banks and con­trac­tors loaned more than $94 bil­lion to African gov­ern­ments and sta­te­owned com­pa­nies from 2000 to 2015, ac­cord­ing to the China Africa Re­search Ini­tia­tive at Johns Hopkins Uni­ver­sity.

“Pub­lic debt in the me­dian sub-Sa­ha­ran African coun­try rose from 34 per­cent of GDP in 2013 to an es­ti­mated 53 per­cent in 2017,” says a re­port in Jan­uary by Wen­jie Chen and Roger Nord of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund.

From oil in coun­tries like Nige­ria and An­gola to rare min­er­als in Congo, Africa’s nat­u­ral re­sources are a ma­jor draw for China’s econ­omy, the world’s sec­ond largest be­hind the U.S.

China’s vo­ra­cious ap­petite for tim­ber and ivory, how­ever, has taken its toll on Africa’s environmen­t.

Xi Jin­ping

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.