Nov. 9 – China has committed to providing US$10 billion in concessional loans to African countries and cancel debts as a way of increasing its role in the continent during the opening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation yesterday.
The loan package will allot a US$1 billion special loan for small and medium-size African businesses. During the last forum in 2006, China had also pledged US$5 billion in loans and canceled the debt of 31 African countries. “We will help Africa build up its financing capabilities… we will provide US$10 billion for Africa in concessional loans,” Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was quoted by the Agence France Presse during the forum.
“China is ready to deepen practical cooperation in Africa,” Mr. Wen added, adding that China was prepared to take on a role in “the settlement of issues of peace and security.”
China has already been playing an active role in the continent during the past years because of its urgent need to secure oil and other raw materials. In 2003, Chinese investments into the continent amounted to US$491 million and in 2008 investments grew to US$7.8 billion.
China has also set up schools, clinics, hospitals and given out African scholarships for study in China. It said it will soon invest on more environmental programs like clean energy projects.
Beijing’s policy of no-interference and massive lending to Africa with no strings attached has been heavily criticized for supporting cruel regimes like Sudan’s President Omar al-Beshir. “Africa is fully capable of solving its own problems, in an African way,” Wen said in his speech.
“China has never attached any political strings… to assistance to Africa,” he said, saying that trade is based on “win-win programs… and transparency.”
China’s African Odyssey