During his address at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing on Monday, President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion to over 40 African countries, stating that the large sum came with no expectations. The aid is speculated to be dispersed in a variety of ways: interest-free loans, grants, concessional loans, and credit lines. Xi explained that the money would fund a number of projects seeking to speed up the continent's development; from agricultural and vocational training to government scholarships and medical aid, rather than being devoted to "vanity projects." Additionally, the Chinese leader announced that debt from certain Chinese interest-free loans would be written off for Africa's poorest countries; a relief for these nations as payment on these loans would have been due at the end of the 2018.
While Xi's announcements were celebrated by some, others characterized the flow of new aid from China to Africa as the continuance of a 'debt trap' economic policy, in which poorer countries agree to heavy debt burdens in the long-term (which they struggle to pay back) in exchange for large sums of capital in the short-term. China has denied such claims, and President Xi himself noted at the Forum that, "China's investment in Africa does not come with any political conditions attached and will neither interfere in internal politics nor make demands that people feel are difficult to fulfill."In the latest episode of the exclusive At Large podcast, host James Chau utilized the comments of Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi to illustrate the African view of cooperation with China. Regarding his country's relationship with China, President Masisi said, "When you look at his [Xi's] policy of interacting with Africa in a non-intrusive manner, without conditionalities; it's very attractive to adopt that model, to adopt such a partner for our own development." Listen to the full episode for James' further insights as well as comments from former Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the current Director-General of the World Health Organization on our website.
Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China every week, while adding a dose of historical perspective.