President Xi Jinping told African leaders on Monday that China's investments on the continent have "no political strings attached", pledging $60 billion in new development financing, even as Beijing is increasingly criticised over its debt-heavy projects overseas.
South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, left, shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping after his speech during the opening ceremony of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing September 3, 2018.
The Chinese President said: "China's cooperation with Africa is clearly targeted at the major bottlenecks to development".
The money would be focused on infrastructure to help speed African countries' development, not on "vanity projects", Xi said.
President Xi said the initiative was not, "a scheme to form an exclusive club or bloc against others".
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Belt and Road has been criticized by many global analysts and leaders for its debt-heavy structures that unfairly burden the Asian, European, and African nations receiving its funds.
President Xi reflected on China's support to Liberia's peace process, and promised to continue to stand up and support the country in multilateral institutions.
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".
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, current chairman of the African Union, also rallied behind China's involvement in Africa. 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.
Xi announced his country's commitment to implement the eight major initiatives with African countries in the next three years covering among others areas of industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation and green development in order to mitigate effects of climate change.
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Xi further announced that China will support the youth from Africa by offering them scholarships, training high calibre young people from the continent and launching Africa innovation centre and that of environment. A $20 billion credit line would be established, while another $10 billion would be channelled into a special fund for China-Africa development.
"Africa is still at the initial stage of industrialization, and the process is very likely to collapse without sustainable investment growth", the state-linked Global Times reported Monday.
But the East African Community partner states are going to Beijing without a common position on a proposed EAC-China trade pact, for which China has been negotiating since 2016, and which Kenya has opposed. 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.
Xi did not say which countries China would extend debt relief to, but he noted they would be Africa's least developed, heavily indebted and poor as well as small island developing countries that have diplomatic relations with China.
"Another perspective.is that those criticizing China on debt give too little", said Kagame in an interview with the official Xinhua news agency.
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He said that limits the ability of African countries to get the full value out of their natural resources and create work for their people. [Consultation Mechanism] As prescribed in the Program for China-Africa Cooperation in Economic and Social Development, adopted at the 2000 Ministerial Conference of FOCAC, China and Africa agreed to set up joint follow-up mechanisms to conduct regular evaluations on the implementation of the follow-up actions. Locals in other countries have complained about the practice of using Chinese labour for building projects and what are perceived as sweetheart deals for Chinese companies.