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Soft Power: Xi Jinping Lays Out Silk Road to Africa With Money
2015-12-09
Brief:A new package of China’s investment in Africa consists of $74 billion. During visits to Zimbabwe and South Africa, China’s President Xi Jinping signed contracts amounting to $7 billion for each country.
During a summit of ‘China-Africa’ cooperation with the participation of heads of state and governments from 48 African countries, Xi Jinping announced that $60 billion will be invested in transcontinental projects across Africa.
 
It is the largest aid package ever given to Africa by China. During the visit, Xi Jinping signed agreements and specified more than 60 joint projects and programs. They cover the industrialization and modernization of agriculture, infrastructure construction, improvement of financial services and debt restructuring, trade facilitation and investment, environmental protection, poverty alleviation, health care and humanitarian exchanges.
 
China is making a large economic investment in the state railway operator in South Africa. The largest contract — $2.5 billion was just signed recently.
 
Xi Jinping stressed that cooperation with Africa is aimed to increase its international prestige, as well as to bring bilateral relations to a new level. Accompanying the president, the Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the final press conference in Pretoria rejected Western and a number of African political elite’s criticism accusing China of neo-colonialism on the continent.
 
The minister stressed that China has never resorted to political pressure and does not interfere in internal affairs and does not force people to do things they do not want or cannot do. China is committed to ensuring that everyone wins from this cooperation, Wang Yi said.
 
Expert from African Institute Tatiana Deich said, “Yes, China is often accused of neo-colonialism; Africans sometimes criticize it but there are also a lot of positive implications of this for Africa.”
 
She further said that China has strengthened its influence in Africa with many Chinese living and working in Africa. She added that because of China's cheap goods and labor, Chinese companies displace local small manufacturers.
 
“However, African leaders believe that the advantages in cooperation are more than the minuses. I do not think what China is doing in Africa is neo-colonialism. China is providing Africa with a lot of help. There is a lot of credit being provided and loans on favorable terms with a long payback period. They often stand out when the West openly ignores the needs and requirements of Africa,” Deich told Sputnik.
 
A few years ago, China overtook the United States and EU countries and has become the main trading partner of Africa. Trade turnover between the two in 2014 reached $220 billion and investments amounted to $32.4 billion. Xi Jinping’s recent visit undoubtedly strengthened this trend.
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