In China's 'Silk Road' project, nations fear walking into ‘debt trap’

Government officials bid farewell to President Uhuru Kenyatta at JKIA as he departs for Beijing on Friday

Government officials bid farewell to President Uhuru Kenyatta at JKIA as he departs for Beijing on Friday

At a time when US Foreign Policy is premised on the "America First" slogan, China is emphasising its win-win approach with African countries.

The 2018 Beijing summit will be chaired by President Xi Jinping, who will also hold relevant activities on the sidelines of the summit.

Constantino Chiwenga has taken over the acting role after President Emmerson Mnangagwa left Harare yesterday for Beijing to attend the Forum for China-Africa Co-operation (Focac), with Zimbabwe's leader saying elevation of relations between the two countries to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership level paved the way for mutual economic development.

The summit, scheduled for September 3-4, aims to build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future, further dovetail China's Belt and Road Initiative with African development, set a new path for a higher level of China-Africa cooperation, and deepen people-to-people exchanges.

China would be happy to help Africa upgrade its customs and commodities inspection facilities and provide supplies and equipment to improve trade connectivity with the continent, the Chinese leader added.

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It is expected that the summit will adopt the new Beijing Action Plan (2019 to 2021), which will chart a new course of China-Africa friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation across various fields in the next three years.

The pundits claimed that China would never deliver on its commitments, and that it was all part of a grand propaganda exercise, but as it turns out, a large number of Africa's priority FOCAC projects have either been completed or are underway.

"I also hope you will do more in staff training and bettering lives for the local people and will put more emphasis on the environment and resources", Xi said.

China is willing to work with Africa to dovetail its Belt and Road Initiative with the Agenda 2063 of the African Union, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations, as well as the development strategies of individual African countries to explore new opportunities and inject new impetus for Africa's development, Wang said.

An agreement for the loan is scheduled to be signed by President Muhammadu Buhari and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, during Buhari's current trip to that country. FOCAC was established in 2000 as a multilateral platform for exchange and cooperation between the Asian giant and African countries.

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The annual ministerial meeting was held ahead of the 2018 Beijing Focac Summit which officially opens today.

China is on a quest to become the world's economic superpower and Africa will be its gateway into infrastructure development investment deals.

Liberian President George Weah has said that his country is ready to align its "pro-poor agenda" with the China-proposed initiative.

"China does not interfere in Africa's internal affairs and does not impose its own will on Africa".

Every African country is represented at the business forum apart from eSwatini, self-ruled Taiwan's last African ally that has so far rejected China's overtures to ditch Taipei and recognise Beijing.

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"As it is, nearly all African countries have loans or grants from China, so it would make economic sense to repay in yuan", said MEFMI spokesperson Gladys Siwela-Jadagu.

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