China’s Cheque Book - Is This The New Colonialism?

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Africa’s leaders gathered in China to hear Xi JinPing pledge $60 billion USD worth of funding to the continent. The Chinese leader assured our politicians that this money had ‘no strings attached,’ despite it being common knowledge China actively pursues debt-heavy projects abroad for power purposes. Encouraging African nations to vote with or abstain from international votes when it suits the Chinese, notably on wildlife conservation laws and conventions.

Xi i offered the funding at the start of a two-day China-Africa summit that focused on his cherished Belt and Road initiative. The money - to be spent over the next three years - comes on top of US$60 billion Beijing offered in 2015. 

The figure includes US$15 billion in grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans, US$20 billion in credit lines, US$10 billion for 'development financing' and US$5 billion to buy imports from Africa.

In addition, Xi said China will encourage companies to invest at least US$10 billion in Africa over the next three years. 

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

Indeed, during a visit to China last month, Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed warned against 'a new version of colonialism,' as he cancelled a series of Chinese-backed infrastructure projects worth US$22 billion.

A number of Chinese state-owned companies have aggressively pursued large investments in Africa, whose vast resources have helped fuel China's transformation into an economic powerhouse. Meanwhile promises of employment and development in recipient countries have fallen short. Roads are left half completed or so poorly made they collapse with the rainy season, and Chinese firms ship in workers rather than hiring our own.

As Kenya’s Daily Nation stated today, ‘The time has come for African leaders to critically interrogate their relationship with China,’ – many believe their loans and aid come at too higher price.

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