Thu, Nov 26, 2015 - Page 6 News List

China to pledge more aid to Africa ahead of Xi visit

Reuters, BEIJING

China is set to announce new aid to African nations when Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) visits Zimbabwe and South Africa next month, a senior Chinese official said yesteray.

The trip is likely to boost China’s relations with Africa, which supplies oil and raw materials such as copper and uranium to the world’s second-largest economy.

China is Africa’s largest trading partner and the trade volume between them amounted to US$220 billion last year, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.

Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Ming (張銘) said Xi will provide further details in his keynote speech on Friday next week.

“As for whether China will continue to provide support and aid, there will be no doubt about it,” Zhang said, declining to provide further details.

Xi is scheduled to meet Zimbabwe’s 91-year-old President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday and Wednesday next week, Zhang said. He is also scheduled to meet South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday and Thursday next week and co-chair a two-day summit between China and African countries in Johannesburg after the meeting.

The summit in December is set to be the second such high-level forum following one held in Beijing in 2006, Zhang said.

“This African trip by President Xi Jinping will be the most important, comprehensive and valuable visit in recent years,” Zhang said.

Xi visited Africa in 2013 shortly after he took office as president. Mugabe reciprocated with a visit to China last year in an attempt to seek loans and investments to lift Zimbabwe’s struggling economy.

Beijing’s focus on growing trade and aid in Africa leaves it open to charges by the West of turning a blind eye to conflicts and rights abuses in the continent.

Trade with resource-rich Africa has exploded in the last decade as China feeds its industrial machine amid African demand for cheap Chinese products.

The EU has rejected what they call China’s “check book” approach to doing business with Africa, saying it would continue to demand good governance and the transparent use of funds from its trading partners.

Chinese firms in Africa also face criticism for using imported labor to build government-financed projects like roads and hospitals, while pumping out raw resources and processing them in China, leaving little for local economies.

China’s friendship with Africa dates back to the 1950s, when Beijing backed liberation movements in the continent fighting to throw off Western colonial rule.

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