China's Xi says 'no strings attached' to Africa investments

China's Xi says 'no strings attached' to Africa investments

Africa has long embraced Chinese investment, helping make Beijing the continent's largest trading partner for the past decade.

The summit will conclude with the signing of a declaration and an action plan, providing guidelines for China-Africa cooperation for the next three years.

Debt from China's interest-free loans, due by the end of 2018, would be written off for some poor African states, Mr Xi said.

One of the biggest contentious issues between African countries and China has been on trade and in the three-year plan, Beijing had promised under the China-Africa Trade and Investment Facilitation Plan to carry out 50 trade programmes to improve Africa's capacity for internal and external trade and investment.

Jeremy Stevens, worldwide economist for the Standard Bank Group, said many felt it would not be "politically appropriate" to pledge huge loans given concern that Africa is becoming overloaded with Chinese debt.

The president said his government would nevertheless focus on the commercial viability of projects and ensure their sustainability.

The China-Africa cooperation under the initiative targets inadequate infrastructure and other key constraints on Africa's development, "with funds to be used where they count most", Xi said.

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China will host more than 1,000 African representatives from over 600 enterprises, business groups, and research institutions at an upcoming conference of Chinese and African entrepreneurs.

"It is through platforms like [this forum] that we should work to balance the structure of trade between Africa and China", Ramaphosa said. Trade volume between China and Africa increased by 17 times between 2000 and 2017.

This year's summit seeks to build a stronger community with a shared future between China and Africa which will yield important outcomes including the connection of the Belt and Road Initiative with Agenda 2063 of the African Union and the United Nations 2030 Agenda on sustainable development.

According to the World Bank, China's rapid growth into an upper middle-income country resulted from the a shift in central planning to a market-based economy in 1978.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said that FOCAC "refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa as our detractors would have us believe", alluding to a comment by Malayasian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed last month that China was trying to promote "a new version of colonialism".

In this regard, we look forward to cementing an even stronger China-Africa partnership through win-win cooperation at the 2018 Focac Summit. South Africa is the top destination of Chinese investment in Africa, with investments of more than $25bn in accumulative terms having accrued by June 2017.

Locals in other countries have complained about the practice of using Chinese labor for building projects and what are perceived as sweetheart deals for Chinese companies.

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