FOCAC 2018 summit: 9 major things Buhari said in China


After three years, leaders of African countries and China converge on the Chinese capital Monday and Tuesday for the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), whose theme is "China and Africa: Toward an even stronger community with a shared future through win-win cooperation".

The financing will be provided in the form of government assistance as well as investment and financing by financial institutions and companies, Xi said in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. "China-Africa cooperation under the BRI is a way to common prosperity that brings benefits to both our peoples".

African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga will take stock of the infrastructure development, industrialisation and peace and development programmes, and agree on the priorities for the coming years.

A study by the Center for Global Development, a United States think-tank, found "serious concerns" about the sustainability of sovereign debt in eight Asian, European and African countries receiving Belt and Road funds.

President Buhari who is also the chairman of ECOWAS addressed the Chinese and African leaders and business representatives at the opening ceremony of the high-level dialogue.

But South African President Cyril Ramaphosa defended China's involvement on the continent, saying FOCAC "refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa as our detractors would have us believe". China's exports to Africa grew by 2.7 per cent to $94.74 billion, while its imports rose by 32.8 per cent to $75.26 billion.

No details were given on specific projects, although Xi said China was planning initiatives in eight areas, including providing $147 million in emergency food aid, sending 500 agricultural experts to Africa, and providing scholarships, vocational training and trade promotion opportunities.

On trade facilitation, Xi said China will increase imports, especially non-resource products, from Africa and support African countries in participating in China International Import Expo.

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Asked about concerns over Africa's rising debts to China, the banks said those still are relatively small and most countries can repay them.

On green development, Xi said China will undertake 50 aid projects on green development, and ecological and environmental protection, with a focus on climate change, ocean, desertification prevention and control, and wildlife protection.

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

For two days in a row, every headline on the front page of the state-run People's Daily started with the words "Xi Jinping..." as the president met with the leaders of countries from Angola and Gabon to Mauritius and Senegal.

Trade between Africa and China in 2014 was at $220 billion.

Speaking earlier at a business forum, Xi said China had to be careful about where money was spent. This, he said, would help African countries in infrastructure planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance, particularly in the sectors of railways, roads, regional aviation, ports, electricity and telecommunications.

China loaned around £97 billion ($125 billion) to the continent from 2000 to 2016, data from the China-Africa Research Initiative at Washington's Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies shows.

"This obviously limits ability African countries to extract full value of abundant natural resources and create work for its people". Locals in other countries have complained about the practice of using Chinese labour for building projects and what are perceived as sweetheart deals for Chinese companies. "No one should deny the significant achievement of China-Africa cooperation based on their assumptions and speculation".