Chinese are no new colonisers - Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa

Chinese funds are not for "vanity projects" in Africa but are to build infrastructure that can remove development bottlenecks, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday, telling Chinese firms they also had to respect local people and the environment.

Last month, Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad canceled more than $20 billion worth of planned Chinese infrastructure projects, saying he was concerned about paying for them.

China lent around $125bn to Africa between 2000 and 2016, according to data compiled by the China-Africa Research Initiative at Washington's Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

"The whole concept and strategy for the Zimbabwean Government is to expand economic activity in Zimbabwe, develop export companies and markets for those exporting companies so that we generate more foreign currency", he said. China will carry out 50 agricultural assistance programs, provide emergency humanitarian food aid amounting to 1 billion yuan (147 million US dollars) to African countries affected by natural disasters, and send 500 senior agricultural experts to Africa.

African leaders and the chairman of the African Union (AU) will be in attendance, and the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General will be the esteemed guest, joined by 27 global and African groups as observers.

African leaders in attendance include South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa, Egypt's Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Zambia's Edgar Lungu and Gabon's Ali Bongo.

In the recent five years, China-Africa relations have gained practical results, bringing tangible benefits to both peoples, including unprecedentedly frequent high-level exchanges and strengthened political guidance.

Nations across Africa are hoping that China's enthusiasm for infrastructure investment will help promote industrialization on the continent.

Chinese state-owned companies have aggressively pursued large investments across African continent, whose vast resources have helped fuel China's transformation into an economic powerhouse.

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It will speed up the industrialization and modernization of the continent, and push China-Africa cooperation to a higher level, said the Chinese diplomat.

The least developed African countries will be exempted from paying exhibition stand fees, he said.

China also says it will wipe clean the debt for certain African countries when interest-free loans come due later this year.

Even then, East African Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda - who is also the African Union chairman - Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya are expected to attend the summit and seek financing for their joint infrastructure projects, particularly the standard gauge railway.

Chinese state media has been aggressively explaining why such investment is good for the continent - and positioning Xi as the champion of the African people.

He listed eight focal areas of funding that would premise the emergence of the "China- Africa community with a shared future in the new era".

Addressing trade imbalances between China and Africa, Ramaphosa dismissed views that the partnership amounted to a new form of colonialism.

The country meant to bring 200 young Africans to China for a skills exchange programme.

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