Chinese President Xi Jinping, yesterday announced a $60 billion package of aid, investment and loans to Africa during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, a triennial meeting between the Chinese leadership and leaders from across Africa.
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According to CNN, the financial package is the same amount Beijing pledged at the previous FOCAC summit in 2015, and is in line with analysts’ expectations that Xi would not vastly increase the amount of Chinese money flowing into Africa.
Over the past nearly two decades, the numbers coming out of FOCAC have generally risen with each event. The pledge in 2015 was three times the figure announced at the 2012 forum.
Jeremy Stevens, international economist for the Standard Bank Group, said many felt it would not be “politically appropriate” to pledge huge loans given concern that Africa is becoming overloaded with Chinese debt.
Stevens said Beijing’s decision not to hike loans to Africa shouldn’t be interpreted as a step back in relations.
“In reality it’s not — it’s a maturation and a natural evolution of the relationship,” he said.
Since it was founded in 2000, FOCAC has become the “Olympics of China-Africa” relations, Steven said, and it has become customary for China to announce huge investment packages at the triennial gathering.
On Monday, Xi outlined eight major initiatives in Africa over the next three years, including plans to establish a China-Africa trade expo, provide one billion reminbi ($146 million) in food aid, extra imports to China from Africa, and a push for green development.
Xi also invited African business leaders to help his country in building the Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious collection of trade and infrastructure projects involving 68 countries.
Africa has borrowed about $130 billion from China since 2000, with loans generally used to finance infrastructure projects. Earlier this year, the IMF warned that the African continent is facing a debt crisis, with 40% of low-income countries now in debt distress or at high risk of this.