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It’s Chinese billions for Africa

From the time Xi Jinping assumed the presidency, almost a quarter of the hundreds of thousands of web pages, domains, encrypted sites, online searches and IP addresses in China were blocked. File picture: AP Photo/Andy Wong

From the time Xi Jinping assumed the presidency, almost a quarter of the hundreds of thousands of web pages, domains, encrypted sites, online searches and IP addresses in China were blocked. File picture: AP Photo/Andy Wong

Published Dec 4, 2015

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#Focac: Johannesburg - Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to make monumental announcements at the opening ceremony of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (Focac) in Sandton today.

It is expected that he will announce a minimum of $50 billion (R719 billion) in development financing for the continent.

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The package of new measures is likely to include concessionary finance; the financing of development projects in infrastructure, health, manufacturing and industrialisation; the modernisation of agriculture; and human resource development through training opportunities and scholarships.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has called the second Focac summit a “pace setter in co-operation and a model of South-South co-operation”.

Wang addressed foreign ministers from virtually every African state gathered at the Department of International Relations and Co-operation yesterday. Only Burkino Faso, Sao Tome and Swaziland did not participate in the deliberations as full members of Focac given their relations with Taiwan.

Raising expectations, Wang referred to the gathering of his government with African leaders as historic, which would help African people to ensure prosperity on the continent.

Despite the economic slowdown in the People’s Republic of China, which is described as “the new normal”, the country is expected to import commodities worth $10 trillion from Africa over the next five years.

Trade between China and Africa has exploded over the past 15 years since Focac was established, with trade volumes going from $10bn in 2000 to $220bn. The summit is expected to map out a blueprint for China-Africa co-operation.

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In her opening remarks at the ministerial meeting, Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane made particular reference to the fact that Xi previously announced that his government would provide $100m to support the operationalisation of the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises.

Such financial assistance is of critical importance in empowering Africa to solve its own crises through a rapid response capability. Since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, African leaders have called for the creation of an African rapid response force to intervene in order to prevent war crimes and gross violations of human rights. While the training of such a force has been ongoing, the unresolved issue has continued to be where the financing would come from.

The funding of the African Standby Force is also key to China’s national interests and forms part of the “win-win co-operation” that Wang referred to.

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China seeks to protect its investments in African conflict zones and its investments in major development and infrastructure projects. The stabilisation of the continent is a key component of success.

China is the largest contributor to UN peacekeeping forces on the continent among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, with 30 000 people deployed. China is becoming increasingly active in conflict-resolution efforts.

The interest of China in African peacemaking is a fairly new development welcomed by African leaders, which respect China for not interfering in their internal political affairs or attaching conditions.

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