China consolidates economic partnership with Africa

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China is aiming to prove to the world that countries could invest in Africa, engage in transactions and do business without a bias to rip-off Africa’s wealth of resources. “China would like to see Africa’s advantage in resources manifest an advantage in development”, said the Chinese Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, last year.

In a report filed by Ren Ke for Corporate Africa late last year, Xu Weizhong, deputy secretary general of China’s Institute of African Studies had indicated that “China views Africa as an opportunity and not a burden (and) although they became independent nearly half a century ago, their economies and politics still rely heavily on former colonial powers, so diversifying their international relations is a critical phase of their development. In addition, learning (from) China’s experience in development and attracting more investments and aid projects offer more pragmatic options for development.”

In accordance with this partnership, Chinese President, Hu Jintao, has granted $22m (£15m) in aid to Tanzania as he continues his tour of Mali, Senegal, Mauritius and Tanzania. According to Mr. Hu, the traditional friendship between China and Tanzania can be viewed as an exemplary relationship of sincerity, solidarity and co-operation between China and an African country, and for that matter between two developing countries.

African analysts and observers claim that the Chinese leadership hopes to improve its image abroad as a responsible country, especially as Africa is suffering from a decline in aid and investment due to the global economic slowdown.

China is not getting only oil from, Sudan, Nigeria, Angola — China’s largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia — and minerals from Zambia and Congo among others, but is also heavily involved in infrastructure projects on the continent. In 2006, China Civil Engineering Construction Company signed a contract to rebuild a 1,315 kilometre Lagos-Kano railway, worth about $8.3b, making it the biggest international contract to be won by a Chinese company.

In Senegal, Saturday, Mr Hu signed aid and loan deals worth $90m and laid the first brick of a “Friendship Bridge” that he called China’s largest gift to West Africa. In Mali, the Chinese have paid for the presidential palace and are building a hospital and a bridge in the capital, Bamako. Mauritius is also looking forward to receiving Chinese investment for infrastructure projects intended to boost the Indian Ocean nation’s economy. In Tanzania, Mr. Hu officially opened a 60,000-seat sports stadium, built at a cost of $56m financed mostly by the Chinese government.

Tanzania is one of the largest African recipients of Chinese aid and bilateral trade rose by nearly 50% in 2007. After witnessing the signing of a number of aid deals with Tanzanian, President Jakaya Kikwete, and President Hu praised their two countries’ relationship

According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, over 800 aid projects, to enhance Africa’s international investment environment, had been implemented in Africa by 2006.

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