African Leaders in China for More Loans As Trade Imbalance Persists

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"Since its establishment, the FOCAC has upheld the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and become a forum featuring equality, practicality and efficiency, President Xi Jinping, will deliver a keynote speech, comprehensively expounding on China's new ideas and proposals for enhancing its relations with Africa, as well as announce China's new actions and measures for its practical cooperation with Africa".

"Only the people of China and Africa have the right to comment on whether China-Africa cooperation is doing well", Xi said. "Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects, but in places where they count the most", Xi said.

China will carry out 50 projects on green development and environmental protection in Africa, focusing on fighting climate change, desertification and wildlife protection, Xi said.

"Liberia supports and is willing to take part in China's Belt and Road Initiative", he said.

A study by the Center for Global Development, a US think-tank, found "serious concerns" about the sustainability of sovereign debt in eight Asian, European and African countries receiving Belt and Road funds.

The delegations are largely led by Presidents or Prime Ministers who started arriving in China since late last week.

He said the forum "refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa as our detractors would have us believe" because there was evidence of "tangible and lasting benefits to the African and Chinese people".

Addressing the summit, Rwandan President and African Union chairman Paul Kagame said a stronger Africa was an opportunity for investment, "rather than a problem or a threat". China's exports to Africa grew by 2.7 per cent to $94.74 billion, while its imports rose by 32.8 per cent to $75.26 billion.

It has already seen China loan billions of dollars to countries in Asia and Africa for roads, railways, ports and other major infrastructure projects.

China's President Xi Jinping and more than 30 Chinese leaders have visited Africa and over 60 African heads of state and government been to China, which has established strategic partnership or comprehensive cooperative partnership with 24 African countries.

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Meanwhile, Africa's win is an initiative launched by the Chinese premier to promote non-resources-based China imports from Africa and a $5 billion special fund to accelerate such efforts.

China has doubled its financial aid and investment pledges to Africa and promised to waive the debt of the continent's least-developed nations as Beijing seeks to extend its economic and political reach in the region.

Trade between Africa and China in 2014 was at $220 billion.

When FOCAC last met in 2015, African leaders and those in China set a goal to double trade to $400 billion by 2020.

He pointed out that energy, transport, telecommunications and tapping cross-border water resources would be on China's radar in the next phase of Africa's infrastructural forays.

Xi said the partnership should "increase political and policy dialogue, enhance mutual understanding and support and boost coordination on major worldwide and regional issues [to] enable us to uphold our common interests".

"The reality is that Chinese debt as a percentage of total African debt is still relatively small", said Kenny Fihla, Standard Bank's chief executive for corporate banking.

China has provided aid to Africa since the Cold War, but Beijing's presence in the region has grown exponentially with its emergence as a global trading power. China welcomes Africa's participation in the Silk Road International League of Theaters, the Silk Road International Museum Alliance and the Network of Silk Road Art Festivals.

Locals in other countries have complained about the practice of using Chinese labor for building projects and what are perceived as sweetheart deals for Chinese companies.