China boosts Africa relations with $20bn loan pledge
Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged African governments $20 billion in credit over the next three years, strengthening its current economic ties with the continent.
The announcement was made at the fifth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), where representatives from 50 African countries were gathered.
Trade between China and Africa rose to $166.3 billion last year. The new $20 billion pledge is double the pledge made in 2009.
Hu said: “China wholeheartedly and sincerely supports African countries to choose their own development path, and will wholeheartedly and sincerely support them to raise their development ability.” He added that China will forever be a “good friend, a good partner and a good brother” to the African continent.
The pledge is to assist African countries in developing infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing small and medium enterprises.
China also offered to improve agricultural technology by training 30,000 personnel and offering 18,000 scholarships.
China’s relationship with Africa has received criticism, particularly from the West. Many have suggested that China is exploitive and has overlooked human rights abuses when doing business with Africa.
However, South African President Jacob Zuma expressed that foreign aid from China is preferred to Western aid.
He said: “We certainly are convinced that China’s intention is different to that of Europe, which to date continues to intend to influence African countries for their sole benefit…We are particularly pleased that in our relationship with China we are equals and that agreements entered into are for mutual gain.”