China offers €15bn African credit line
CHINA HAS offered African states £12 billion (€15 billion) in loans over the next three years, cementing an alliance that appears increasingly hostile to the west.
Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, promised the credit line – double what China pledged for the previous three-year period – at the opening yesterday of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation in Beijing.
China’s non-judgmental approach to business continues to gain traction with African governments reluctant to be lectured by a hypocritical west that includes former colonial masters.
Criticism that Africa is allowing its natural resources to be exploited, and that China is content to bolster dictators and ignore human rights abuses, merely feeds anti-western sentiment.
Mr Hu brushed aside such concerns in his speech at the Great Hall of the People, attended by leaders from 50 African states including South African president Jacob Zuma and Equatorial Guinea’s president Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Mr Obiang is condemned by western activists as a brutal and corrupt dictator.
“China and Africa should increase co-ordination and co-operation in international affairs,” said Mr Hu. “We should oppose the practices of the big bullying the small, the strong domineering over the weak and the rich oppressing the poor.”
China will “continue to steadfastly stand together with the African people and will forever be a good friend, a good partner and a good brother”, he told the three-yearly summit.
Mr Hu said the loans would support infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and development of small and medium-sized businesses. He pledged to “continue to expand aid to Africa, so that the benefits of development can be realised by the African people”.
Africa is increasingly portrayed as a microcosm of the shifting global balance of power: three years ago China overtook the US as the continent’s biggest trading partner.
Mr Zuma did little to diminish the sense of rivalry. He said: “Africa’s past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies. We are particularly pleased that in our relationship with China we are equals and agreements entered into are for mutual gain. We certainly are convinced China’s intention is different to that of Europe, [countries] which continue to attempt to influence African countries for their sole benefit.”