Sunday, November 05, 2006

China and Africa Adopt Three-year Action Plan at Summit

China, Africa adopt 3-year action plan as summit closes
China to Double its Aid to Africa
Chinese Offer African Bonanza
Africa and China

At a summit held in Beijing, China and over 48 African nations announced a three year action plan to strengthen the expanding economic ties between China and African nations. China will double its aid from its 2006 level by 2009, although no specific figures were given. In addition, China will offer $3 billion in preferential loans and $2 billion in export credits over the next three years. The export credit is designed to increase the number of goods that do not attract tax when imported to China from Africa. China will also train 15,000 African professional and set up a development fund to help build schools and hospitals.

“China will forever be a good friend, good partner, and good brother of Africa,” said Chinese President Hu Jintao.

China is cancelling its debts due from the least developed countries in Africa, setting up a $6.7 billion fund to subsidize Chinese companies' investments in Africa, and raising from 190 to 440 the items that Africa's least developed countries can export to China tariff-free. China is already by some way the biggest lender to Africa, providing $10.8 billion this year to Angola, Mozambique and Nigeria alone, while the World Bank is lending $3.2 billion to all sub-Saharan Africa.

Critics say Beijing is stifling African manufacturing and accuse Beijing of conducting business with repressive regimes. Part of this reflects Chinese foreign policy which abstain from interfering the the affairs of other countries. The Chinese government has being accused of ignoring genocide in Darfur and human rights violations in Zimbabwe. However, in the race to gain access to raw materials, China is often left with no choice but to invest in countries, like the Sudan, which have been abandoned by Western countries. Some analysts have said that Africa is the only place in the world where large, undeveloped mineral reserves still exist and as a result, many of the new Chinese-African business deals are expected to revolve around China’s development of African mineral resources, particularly oil.

However, China maintains that it has no political agenda and many economists contend that China’s growing economic ties to Africa are benefiting the region.

Human rights organizations voice concern over how Chinese-owned firms treat African workers. Protests broke out in Zambia in July about the alleged treatment of workers at a Chinese-owned mine, and there have been reports of pay disputes in Namibia.

The next China-Africa summit will be held in Egypt in 2009.

1. Is China's increasingly important role on the continent of Africa mutually advantageous?
2. Will China need to change its foreign policy in Africa by shunning political corrupt regimes to be seen as a responsible global power?

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