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China and Africa strengthen cooperation
Published Nov 12, 2006 10:32 PM
China’s diplomatic greeters rolled out red carpets for 48
delegations from African countries arriving in Beijing on Nov.
3-5 for the “Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.”
Malawi, Swaziland, Burkina Faso, and Sao Tome and
Principe—which have diplomatic relations with
Taiwan—were invited but did not send delegations.
Throughout Beijing banners and billboards proclaimed the meeting
and its intention to build solidarity between the Chinese and
Thirty-five of the delegations were headed by the top official
from that country. Thabo Mbeki from South Africa, Olusegun
Obasanjo from Nigeria, Hosni Mubarak from Egypt and Omar Bongo
from Gabon were among the presidents who turned their trip to
Beijing for the forum into a state visit.
During the conference, Chinese and African authorities announced
14 trade and investment deals totaling nearly $2 billion.
The final declaration at the Beijing forum was jointly delivered,
read in turn by Chinese President Hu Jintao, Ethiopian Prime
Minister Meles Zenawi and Egyptian President Mohammed Hosni
Mubarak. It proclaimed a strategic partnership featuring
“political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win
cooperation and cultural exchanges.”
The statement called for increasing the representation and full
participation of African countries in the United Nations Security
Council and other UN agencies. “We urge the developed
countries to increase official development assistance and honor
their commitments to opening market and debt relief,” it
Priority should be given to cooperation in agriculture,
infrastructure, industry, fishing, information technology, public
health and education, to draw on each other’s strengths for
the benefit of the peoples, according to the declaration.
The declaration concluded that, “We hold that the
establishment of a new type of strategic partnership is both the
shared desire and independent choice of China and Africa, serves
our common interests, and will help enhance solidarity, mutual
support and assistance and unity of the developing countries and
contribute to durable peace and harmonious development in the
Africa runs surplus in Chinese trade
Bilateral trade between Africa and China amounted to $10 billion
in the year 2000. Five years later, that amount grew to more than
$40 billion. Projections at the recent Beijing summit estimate
that in 2010 that annual trade will grow to roughly $80 billion
to $100 billion, which would supplant European Union trade with
China imported 38 million tons of oil from Africa last year,
making up about 30 percent of the country’s total oil
imports. It also imports a significant amount of minerals, timber
and other raw materials its economy needs.
Chinese investments in Africa in 2005 were mainly in building
ports, railways, roads and dams.
In an Oct. 30 announcement made in the Nigerian capital of Abuja,
China and Nigeria reported signing an $8.3 billion multi-year
agreement. China is providing Nigeria a $2.3 billion
“soft” loan. This will help finance a major power
plant, improve and modernize the railway system, develop a rural
telephone project, and help implement efficient communication
Africa runs a slight surplus in its balance of trade with China,
which destroys the foundation of the charge, common in the
imperialist media, that these trade deals are just a refashioned
version of 19th century Western mercantilism.
The 19th century colonial powers like Great Britain, France and
Belgium also severely limited or denied access to higher
Today several hundred students from Gabon, for example, are in
China studying medicine, engineering, science and finance.
The news service InfoPlus from the country of Gabon—which
is a major West African oil producer with aging
fields—explains that China “invests in petroleum
fields that the Western majors judge only slightly profitable.
Their policy is skillful: it is not a question of immediate
profitability but of guaranteeing the future.”
It is telling that this event, so important for Africa’s
development, received little notice in the U.S. media.
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