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China's Xi offers $60 bn Africa aid, says 'no strings attached'

China's Xi offers $60 bn Africa aid, says 'no strings attached'

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.

All but six of the over 40 African leaders and heads of state and government attended the 3rd Summit chaired by the Communist leader Xi Jinping to definitely tighten China's grip over Africa and to deepen Africa's dependency on China.

"The Forum, in which the Chinese and African leaders will exchange in-depth views on the development of China-Africa relations and global and regional issues of common concern, has President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, as the African co-chair", Xiaoliang said.

The massive scheme is aimed at improving Chinese access to foreign markets and resources, and boosting Beijing's influence overseas.

"China's investment in Africa comes with no political strings attached, " said Xi.

The absent leaders, according to checks by Africanews, are John Magufuli of Tanzania who is represented by Prime Minister; Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi who is represented by his second vice-president; Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo who is represented by his Prime Minister; Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, Abdul Aziz Bouteflika of Algeria and King Mswati of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) who has no representation at all at the summit.

On capacity building, Xi said China will set up 10 Luban Workshops in Africa to offer vocational training for young Africans. "It is through platforms like FOCAC that we should work to balance the structure of trade between Africa and China", he said. "China-Africa cooperation under the BRI is a way to common prosperity that brings benefits to both our peoples".

Xi said China would increase cooperation with the continent, including expanding imports of products beyond resources.

But Xi admitted there was a need to look at the commercial viability of projects and make sure preparations are made to lower investment risks and make cooperation "more sustainable".

China's growing presence on the continent - particularly with its massive "Belt and Road Initiative" - has raised concerns that many African nations might struggle to repay the Chinese debt used to build expensive infrastructure projects, allowing China to take control of strategic assets.

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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.

With all these developments, Africa Beyond Aid crusader Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, maintains that "Africa is not a zero sum game".

He also announced an additional $60 billion of loans and other financing to follow on a similar amount promised three years ago.

During the meeting, President Buhari had said he was not afraid of a free and fair election in 2019.

Xi said Belt and Road complies with global norms, and China "welcomes the participation of other capable and willing countries for mutually beneficial third-party cooperation".

In addition, he said China will encourage companies to invest at least $10 billion in Africa over the next three years.

Mr Xi said the plan, for which Beijing has pledged £97.8 billion ($126 billion), would help provide more resources and facilities for Africa and would expand shared markets.

Ramaphosa warned that the benefits of globalization have not been equally distributed between countries, resulting in a "fractured world where some powers are prone to unilateral and protectionist measures".

Chinese state-owned companies have aggressively pursued large investments in Africa, whose vast resources have helped fuel China's transformation into an economic powerhouse.

While relations between China and African nations are broadly positive, concerns have intensified about the impact of some of China's deals in the region.

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