20091112

China has come to Africa... .

"There have been allegations for a long time that China has come to Africa to plunder its resources and practice neo-colonialism. This allegation, in my view, is totally untenable."

Wen Jiabao, China’s premier, following a pledge of USD 10 billion in cheap loans to Africa over the next three years, and refuting claims that the Asian powerhouse is only looking to exploit Africa’s resources. The loan pledge for Africa was double a USD 5 billion commitment made in 2006. Wen said eight new Chinese policy measures aimed at strengthening relations with Africa were "more focused on improving people's livelihoods," underlining what he called Beijing's "selfless" engagement in Africa, the Washington Post reported.
He said China will construct 100 new clean-energy projects on the continent and gradually lower customs duties on 95 percent of products from African states with which it has diplomatic ties. The IMF has expressed concern about African governments taking on too much debt from Chinese lenders. But Wen said China would write off some loans it had made to the poorest and most heavily indebted countries.
African heads of state, including Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Sudan's Omar Hassan al-Bashir, lauded China's support. But others said African nations needed to devise their own development plans to take full advantage of Chinese finance. Last year, European Union lawmakers assailed China for courting “oppressive” African governments, such as Sudan, to satisfy its soaring demand for oil and raw materials.
“China is very stung by criticism from so-called Western quarters in recent years,” Martyn Davies, CEO of Frontier Advisory, a Johannesburg-based research and strategy consulting company, told Bloomberg news.
China is trying “to have a softer approach” in an effort to rebut the notion that its interest in Africa is “extractionist in nature.” The pattern of trade, raw materials going to China and Chinese finished goods flooding Africa - has angered some Africans. “We are sick and tired of the old model, where China comes to Africa and extracts raw materials and goes back to China,” Zimbabwean Deputy PM Arthur Mutambara said in the Zimbabwe Times in September. “We are not now interested in that.” Source: Global Development Briefing, by Checkbook Diplomacy.

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