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Chinese Check On The African Stake

He has been accused of getting the African countries into a debt trap. The global media have blasted Chinese President Xi Jinping for making an attempt to set up modern colonies in different parts of Africa! Finally, the Chinese president clarified Beijing’s economic role in the Dark Continent, saying: “We do not have interest in any vanity projects in Africa.
Speaking at a business forum ahead of the September 3-4 China Africa Summit in Beijing, President Xi said that the Asian giant decided to build infrastructure that could remove bottlenecks in Africa’s development. “Resources for our co-operation are not to be spent on any vanity projects, but in places where they count the most,” he stressed.

Leaders of many African nations attended the Summit in the Chinese capital last week. In the presence of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zambian President Edgar Lungu, the Chinese leader declared that Beijing had no plan to set up colonies in Africa or to interfere in internal issues of the African nations. China’s only goal is to improve the socio-economic conditions of some poorest countries, stressed Xi.
Meanwhile, the Chinese leader announced that Beijing would provide USD 60 billion in financial aid to Africa. It is to be noted that China had offered the same amount of loans to the African countries in 2015. Data from the China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at Washington’s Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies shows that China loaned around USD 125 billion to the continent from 2000 to 2016.

The Chinese president’s latest announcement surprised a number of countries. Some Western nations and neighbouring India had accused Beijing of snatching the lands of many African countries by offering a huge amount of loan. However, President Xi rubbished the allegation, saying that he asked the Chinese firms, involved in different projects in Africa, to respect the beliefs and feelings of the locals.
Similarly, China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) project (too) triggered a controversy! Reports suggest that countries, which have taken part in the mega project, fall into a debt trap. Sri Lanka, struggling to pay its debt to Chinese firms, formally handed over the strategically important port of Hambantota to Beijing on a 99-year lease in December 2017. Even newly-elected Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is worried about the Chinese aggression.

President Xi

That’s why Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad cancelled some USD 22 billion worth of Chinese-backed infrastructure projects in August. During his five-day trip to China, PM Mahathir told President Xi and other Chinese leaders that Malaysia decided to cut its debt burden and would not be able to afford those projects (at least for now). He categorically said: “We do not want a situation where there is a new version of colonialism happening because poor countries are unable to compete with rich countries in terms of just open, free trade.
African heads of state, too, are aware of the allegations against China, although they are supporting Chinese economic intervention in their continent. Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda (currently enjoys the presidency of the African Union), has rejected the allegation against China. However, the African media are not ready to give China a clean-chit. “Time has come for African leaders to critically interrogate their relationship with China,” said an editorial in Kenya’s Daily Nation on September 3.

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