China and Africa


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President Xi Jinping hails all-weather friendship between China, Zambia


Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday held a phone conversation with his Zambian counterpart, Hakainde Hichilema.

President Xi hailed the all-weather friendship between China and Zambia, stressing bilateral friendship is unbreakable.

Over the past year, China-Zambia relations have maintained a positive momentum of development, with bilateral trade volume reaching a record high, the Chinese president pointed out, adding Zambia has become China's top destination for foreign direct investment in Africa.

Noting cooperation between the two sides has great potential and a bright future, Xi said China attaches great importance to bilateral relations and is willing to work with the Zambian side to consolidate and deepen China-Zambia friendship and push bilateral ties to higher levels and broader areas.

Xi called on the two sides to grasp bilateral ties from a strategic perspective, support each other on issues related to each other's core interests, strengthen inter-party exchanges and share experience in governance.

The two sides should strengthen strategic communication and policy synergy, fully implement the "Nine Projects" of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, he added.

Apart from promoting more Zambian goods, especially high-quality agricultural products, to enter the Chinese market, Xi also said the two sides should strengthen cooperation in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is necessary to inherit Tanzania-Zambia Railway spirit and give it a new connotation, so as to make the Tanzania-Zambia Railway an important transportation corridor in the region, he added.

Noting China and Zambia are both developing countries, Xi told Hichilema that developing solidarity and cooperation with Zambia and other African countries is a long-term and firm strategic choice for China.

Both sides should adhere to the pursuit of an independent foreign policy, firmly uphold international fairness and justice, and firmly safeguard the international system with the United Nations at its core and the international order based on international law, said Xi.
He added, China is willing to work with the African side to promote the high-quality joint Belt and Road construction, deepen cooperation in health, poverty alleviation, agriculture, trade and investment, green development, digital economy and other fields, help Africa achieve economic recovery and sustainable development, and promote building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era.

For his part, Hichilema said the Zambian side admires the achievements made by China and thanks China for its long-standing support for Zambia's national construction and development as well as providing assistance for Zambia's fight against COVID-19, including vaccine assistance.

The Zambian side is willing to strengthen exchanges and learn from the Communist Party of China, consolidate and deepen the traditional friendship established by the old generation of Zambian and Chinese leaders, and promote greater development of bilateral relations for the benefit of the two peoples in a spirit of high mutual trust and cooperation, he added.

The Zambian side firmly adheres to the one-China principle and supports the Belt and Road Initiative, Global Development Initiatives and Global Security Initiatives, Hichilema stressed.

The Zambian president voiced willingness to actively deepen all-round cooperation under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. He also wished the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China a great success.
 

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New platform to enhance Sino-African trade​


By WANG XIAODONG | China Daily | Updated: 2022-06-29 07:28

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A new platform to promote economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa was established in Beijing on Tuesday.

The Asia-Africa Innovation Cooperation Center was set up following President Xi Jinping's proposal made at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2018 to set up a China-Africa center on innovation cooperation to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among young people in China and Africa, according to the Administrative Committee of Beijing Daxing International Airport Economic Zone.

The center was jointly set up by the committee, the embassies of a number of African nations in China and Chinese companies including Asia-Africa Silk Road International Business Co.

It is set to become an important channel through which Chinese and African entrepreneurs can set up and develop business more efficiently, the zone's administrative committee said.

The committee said it will intensify cooperation with African countries and improve the business environment and services, with the center facilitating China-Africa cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, science and technology, environmental protection, culture, tourism and talent cultivation.

Deep friendship

Mahamudu Bawumia, the vice-president of Ghana, applauded the establishment of the center and the deep friendship and cooperation between China and Ghana.

"The establishment of the Asia-Africa Innovation Cooperation Center, with the inclusion of a Ghana pavilion, is a further indication of the greater commitment between our two countries," he said via video link at the launch ceremony of the center on Tuesday.

The range of Chinese investment in Ghana is very wide and covers areas including agriculture, health, infrastructure, industries and services, which have made significant contributions to creating jobs and promoting development in Ghana, he said, adding that China is Ghana's biggest trading partner and foreign investment source.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, China has provided assistance in terms of projects such as ports, roads and bridges, which have brought benefits to the people of Ghana, he said.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Martin Chedondo, Zimbabwe's ambassador to China, said, "The center represents the culmination of the initiative by the government of China to forge stronger and mutually beneficial relations and cooperation with Africa."

"It symbolizes China's vision to uplift the lives of the people on the African continent through the promotion of trade and investment with China," he said, adding that he expects the center to become a platform for sharing information and resources and policy communication between China and Africa in the promotion of economic cooperation and trade.

"The center will truly be a steppingstone in the quest to jointly build a China-Africa community with a shared future of prosperity," he said.

"The center will facilitate the importation and sale of Zimbabwean goods both online and offline. This will help enterprises in Zimbabwe expand their production capacities, thereby growing our economy and increasing jobs."

Key role in cooperation

Dawano Kedir, deputy head of mission of the Ethiopian embassy in Beijing, applauded China-Ethiopia cooperation and said he hoped the center would play an important role in strengthening bilateral cooperation.

Saying that China has made a great contribution to the development of Ethiopia, he added that the "great opportunities" created by China had benefited both sides.

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, China-Africa trade exceeded $250 billion last year, making China the biggest trading partner of Africa for 13 years in a row, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.
 

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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi took the first ride of the electric Light Rail Transit LRT at its inauguration ceremony, which was also attended by Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang. LRT is jointly built by Chinese and Egyptian companies.

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China, Mozambique vow to advance Belt and Road cooperation

China stands ready to actively participate in cooperation with Mozambique under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi said on Monday.

Yang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks during a meeting with Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.

China is ready to promote cooperation with Mozambique in fields such as infrastructure construction, agriculture and energy to achieve more outcomes, Yang said.

Nyusi said Mozambique is willing to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with China under the BRI.

Proposed by China in 2013, the BRI comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes.

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An aerial view of the Chinese-built Maputo Bridge in Maputo, Mozambique. /Xinhua

Yang said China firmly supports Mozambique in exploring a development path in line with its own conditions and supports the country's efforts to safeguard its security and stability.

China is willing to engage in all-round exchanges with Mozambique, further deepen their political mutual trust, and support each other on issues involving their respective core interests and major concerns, he said.

China congratulates Mozambique on its election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in June, he said. China supports Mozambique to play a constructive role in maintaining international peace and security, and supports resolving African issues in an African way, he said. China stands ready to work with Mozambique to jointly make greater contributions to the stability, prosperity and development of Africa and the world, he added.

Nyusi congratulated the 101st anniversary of the founding of the CPC and wished a success for the 20th CPC National Congress later this year.

He hailed the traditional friendship and fruitful cooperation between the two countries and their ruling parties, describing them as "reliable good partners."

He thanked China for supporting Mozambique's economic and social development and its fight against COVID-19. Mozambique is firmly committed to developing friendship with China and firmly adheres to the one-China policy, he said.

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COVID-19 vaccines donated by China arrive at the Maputo International Airport in Maputo, Mozambique, February 24, 2021. /Xinhua

Mozambique is ready to enhance communication and coordination with China in international affairs and jointly address the profound changes in the international situation and various challenges, he said.

Yang also met with Mozambican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Veronica Macamo during the visit.

Mozambique is the last stop of Yang's four-nation tour, following his visits to
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.
 

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China ‘not to blame’ for African debt crisis, it’s the West: study​


  • High-interest loans from private Western lenders account for most of the burden on countries in Africa, Britain’s Debt Justice charity finds
  • Campaigners are calling on the G7 to stop using Chinese loans as ‘distraction’ while letting their own banks, asset managers and oil traders off the hook

Tue, July 12, 2022 at 7:30 PM·5 min read

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owe three times more debt to Western banks, asset managers and oil traders than to China, and are charged double the interest, according to a study released on Monday by British campaign charity Debt Justice.

This is despite the growing accusations by the US and other Western countries that China's lending is behind the debt troubles faced by some African countries.

The study said just 12 per cent of the continent's external debt was owed to Chinese lenders, compared to 35 per cent owed to Western private creditors, according to calculations based on World Bank data.

Interest rates charged on private loans were almost double those on Chinese loans, while the most indebted countries were less likely to have their debt dominated by China, the study found. The average interest rate on private sector loans is 5 per cent, compared to 2.7 per cent on loans from Chinese public and private lenders.

The study was released ahead of the G20 finance ministers meeting from July 15-16 in Indonesia. Campaigners are calling on Western countries, particularly Britain and the US, to compel private lenders to take part in the
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- the G20's latest debt relief scheme.

The study found a dozen of the 22 African countries with the highest debts were paying more than 30 per cent of their total external repayments to private lenders. These included Cabo Verde, Chad, Egypt, Gabon, Malawi, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Tunisia and Zambia.

South Sudan is one of the hardest hit in this category, with 81 per cent of its debt repayments going to private creditors, and just 11 per cent to China. Ghana is also paying more than half of its external debt obligations to the private sector, with 11 per cent going to China and the rest to multilateral lenders and other governments.

Chinese lenders accounted for more than 30 per cent of loan payments in six of the 22 most indebted countries - Angola, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Zambia.

The study calculations showed 59 per cent of Angola's foreign debt payments serviced Chinese lenders. And Djibouti - where China has poured billions of dollars into
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, and also set up its first overseas military base - makes 64 per cent of its external debt payments to Beijing.

Debt Justice policy head Tim Jones said Western leaders blamed China for debt crises in Africa, "but this is a distraction".
"The truth is their own banks, asset managers and oil traders are far more responsible but the G7 are letting them off the hook."

Jones said China had taken part in the G20's Debt Service Suspension Initiative during the pandemic, while private lenders did not. "There can be no effective debt solution without the involvement of private lenders. The UK and US should introduce legislation to compel private lenders to take part in debt relief," he said.

The G20 initiative, unveiled in May 2020, provided 48 economies with temporary cash-flow relief, delivering about US$12.9 billion in debt service payments by the end of December when it ended.

But the exclusion of private and multilateral lenders meant countries that applied to take part in the initiative saw just 23 per cent of their external repayments suspended.

In 2020, Zambia became
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- on US$3 billion in dollar-denominated bonds - in the pandemic era. It is now in the process of restructuring about US$17 billion in external debt as a precondition to securing IMF loans of US$1.4 billion.
Lusaka owes Chinese lenders about US$6 billion, which has gone into building mega projects including airports, highways and power dams.

The initiative's replacement, the G20 Common Framework, allows participating countries to agree to restructure debt with bilateral lenders and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The nations are then supposed to seek similar debt treatment from private sector creditors.

Only Chad, Zambia and Ethiopia have so far applied for help through the Common Framework, but all are still waiting for debt relief.
The G7 countries have blamed China for the failure of the debt relief programme to help heavily indebted countries avoid default, doubling down in May with a statement from the finance ministers of the world's seven most advanced economies.

"With regards to the implementation of the Common Framework, it remains essential that all relevant creditor countries - including non-Paris Club countries, such as those like China, with large outstanding claims on low-income countries facing debt sustainability challenges - contribute constructively to the necessary debt treatments as requested," they said.

Yungong Theo Jong, head of programmes at the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (Afrodad), said multilateral and private lenders remained the biggest creditors to African governments.

"Loans from China have increased Africa's indebtedness, but by far less than Western lenders. All lenders must participate in debt relief. Western governments must lead the way by making private lenders cancel debts," he said.
 
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Chinese-built Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, connecting Mombasa, the largest port in East Africa, and Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, with a total length of around 480 kilometers, marks five years of safe operation since its launch on May 31, 2017. The railway is powering Kenya's growth and renewal with multi-dimensional impacts on the economy and society.

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A Chinese port in Nigeria will change the world economy​

New facility unites the economic and demographic giants of Asia and Africa

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In November 2010, little-known Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping gave a speech in South Africa promoting the creation of "a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership for a better future."
While today debt sustainability issues dominate the headlines, back then China was under pressure over trade. African leaders had, often loudly, paired China's rapacious appetite for the continent's commodities and return sale of manufactured goods with colonialism.
Hearing their complaints, then Vice President Xi promised his African audience that China would improve the structure of China-Africa trade and seek to both open additional sectors up to trade and identify opportunities to increase exports from African countries.
Some twelve years on, a milestone was reached this month when a Chinese vessel became the first ship to berth at Nigeria's first deep-water port in Lekki that was financed by the China Development Bank and built by Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise, a special purpose vehicle owned by a group of investors led by state-owned China Harbour Engineering and Tolaram Group, a Singapore-based conglomerate, and including local and federal Nigerian governments.
According to Nigerian Ports Authority managing director Mohammed Bello-Koko, the arrival of the megaship from Shanghai was historic, signifying not only Nigeria's readiness to take trade facilitation a notch higher but also the port's potential to help optimize the African Continental Free Trade Area, a pact connecting 1.3 billion people across 55 countries that the World Bank believes can transform Africa's economies.
Just 60 km east of the world's 15th largest city and Africa's largest metropolis Lagos, the port will increase its container-carrying potential from 3,000 containers to up to 20,000 containers. It will also allow up to 5 megaships to berth at the same time, putting Nigeria light years ahead of what is presently available in alternative Nigerian ports at Tin Can Island and Apapa.
Unlike some of China's more economically isolated port investments in, for example, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, in Nigeria there are two globally significant investments ready to take advantage of the new facilities in Lekki.
The oil refining capacity of 650,000 barrels per day in Dangote Group's Petrochemical Complex will not only meet Nigeria's demand but also offer a surplus for export. Second, the Dangote Fertilizer Plant, a $2.5 billion urea and ammonia fertilizer plant that was commissioned in March by Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari.
Occupying 500 hectares near to the Lekki Port, the plant is the largest granulated urea plant in Africa and the second-largest globally, and came on stream just as Russia invaded Ukraine, ensuring elevated demand for its outputs.
In the East Asian development tradition, the Lekki Port itself is embedded into the Lekki Free Trade Zone. Offering tax and other incentives, as well as reliable and modern infrastructure, the new port will dramatically reduce the cost of shipping and could change the face of importing to and exporting from Africa's largest economy.
Lai Mohammed, Nigeria's Minister of Information and Culture, has said that Lekki will generate more than $201 billion for the government and help Nigeria regain lost maritime business to Togo, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. Maritime stakeholders in landlocked Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mali are reported to have recently ceased using Nigerian ports altogether.
In a country where the median age is just 18 and the total fertility rate remains above five births per woman, elevated economic efficiencies and probable net foreign currency-earning investments such as the Lekki Port are timely. It is estimated that around half of Nigerian youths aged 15 to 24 are unemployed, and the country's economy has been ravaged by COVID.
While automation means that directly the port will create few jobs, the digitization of customs clearance facilities could signal a bigger digital trade and monetary evolution on the horizon. Nigeria leads Africa in the implementation of a digital currency, the eNaira, which was launched in October 2021, just as China's digital currency leads Asia.

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If the economic and demographic giants of Asia and Africa utilize Lekki, and those digital currency moves ultimately give Nigeria the lead on digital-currency-based trade, this may one day be a hub that leads Nigeria's oil trade with China switch from dollars to yuan.
Neither currency is ready for mainstream internationalization, but digital currencies can be programmed to be limited to an equivalent test between just two countries and restrictive to specific lines of trade.
Africa's largest economy will soon be home to its first modern, multi-berth, mega-ship-receiving port. The arrival of a mega traditional port, moreover, may also arrive with the arrival of a digital currency-based era of world trade.
The little-known Xi Jinping of 2010, who promised to optimize China-Africa trade, has gone on to oversee a related infrastructure-spending spree that presents new challenges yet also new opportunities for African countries. And in Lekki, the next horizon again may already be emerging.
An era highlighted by the gradual integration of Africa's economies and the further integration of those economies with China, and where digital currencies will operationalize trade and repayment of Chinese loans via exports that flow through an automated Singaporean-managed deep-water port down the road from Africa's largest city.
Investors failing to at least flag developments between the economic and demographic giants of Asia and Africa, respectively, may rue the day they missed the boat from Shanghai.
 

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