Saturday, November 21, 2009

China-Africa Summit in Egypt Hailed as Success

China-Africa Summit in Egypt Hailed as Success

$US10 billion pledged by PRC to assist agricultural and other development projects

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
News Analysis

A new chapter in relations between the People’s Republic China (PRC) and the African continent began during the recently held 4th Ministerial Conference of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum (FOCAC) which was held between November 6-9 in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. During the summit Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced eight new measures to enhance partnerships with 53 African states in the areas of agriculture, debt relief, market access expansion, climate change, medical affairs, education, environmental protection and promotion of investment.

The summit was addressed by Premier Wen and was also attended by the Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming. Wen said that Beijing is “committed to…going all-out to assist African countries in improving their agricultural production and infrastructure.” (South African Mail & Guardian, November 9)

According to a statement made by Premier Wen, “The Chinese people cherish sincere friendship toward the African people, and China’s support to Africa’s development is concrete and real. We will help Africa build financing capabilities. We will provide $10 billion for Africa in concessional loans.” (Money Morning, November 10)

This summit in Sharm el-Sheikh is a continuation of the 2006 meeting which was held in Beijing. Economic cooperation between the PRC and the African continent has accelerated in recent years.

During 2008, China exceeded the United States in becoming the largest trading partner with Africa. Total trade between Beijing and the African continent totaled $107 billion. This represents a tenfold increase since 2000.

The Chinese oil industry has announced plans to invest $16 billion in efforts to boost its imports from Africa. The Chinese state-owned company, CNOOC Ltd, is conducting negotiations with Nigeria to purchase 6 billion barrels of oil, which would total over 17 percent of the West African nation’s reserves.

This deal, if approved, could generate $30-50 billion in revenue for Nigeria. Other trade relations between China and Africa involves the importation of large supplies of gold, silver, copper, cobalt, bauxite, iron ore and nickel.

In his statement to the summit, Premier Wen stated in part that “The rapidly growing relations and cooperation between China and Africa have attracted the world’s attention in recent years. I would like to point out that it was not just few years ago that China suddenly started its presence in Africa or Africa started its support for China.” (, November 9)

Premier Wen continued by discussing the shared history between the peoples of Africa and China in the struggle against foreign domination and exploitation. He stressed that “As early as in the 1950s and 60s, China and Africa fought shoulder to shoulder in the historic struggle against imperialism, colonialism and hegemony and worked side by side in the hard endeavor to revive our respective national economies.”

China Provides Viable Alternative to Relations With the West

During the same time period that the FOCAC summit was taking place in Egypt, there was a ministerial meeting held between the finance ministers of the Group of 20 in Scotland. The G20, which is dominated by the capitalist of the West and Japan, has failed to honor the promises made to the African continent over the last three years.

At the previous G20 meeting held in Pittsburgh during early October, it was noted by various African states that the economic grouping has not honored its pledges to work seriously towards the alleviation of underdevelopment on the continent. In fact, over the last two years as a result of the global economic crisis, over 50 million people in Africa have been thrust into poverty.

According to Money Morning managing editor Jason Simpkins, “While U.S. and European officials this weekend squabbled over the specifics of an economic recovery plan, China took another step to ensure long-term economic growth by inking another multibillion dollar deal with Africa.” (Morning Money, November 10)

Also Daragh Maher, deputy head of global foreign exchange strategy at Calyon Credit Agricole, said that “The G20 meeting failed to deliver any real specifics as to how it intended to rebalance the global economy, suggesting the drift in the dollar is not likely to be addressed on a coordinated basis.” (Associated Press, November 10)

In contrast to these developments in the capitalist states, China has been successful in implementing its economic stimulus program that has resulted in significant results. “Indeed, China has found exceptional economic growth at a time when most of the Western world is struggling back from the brink. A continent rich in commodities, which have been skyrocketing in value, Africa is integral to China’s plans for sustained growth.” (Money Morning, November 10)

Nonetheless, the imperialist states and its allies have attempted to distort the nature of China’s economic and political relationships with various African states. In a statement issued by the right-wing Heritage Foundation, it claims that the PRC “aids and abets oppressive and destitute African dictatorships by legitimizing their misguided policies and praising their development models as suited to individual national conditions.”

The Pentagon has criticized the $7 billion in arm exports to the oil-rich nation of Sudan between 2003-2007 as evidence of China’s support of African states that have been criticized and targeted for destabilization by the United States. Zimbabwe has also benefitted from political and economic support from China and the U.S. has often cited this as an indication that Beijing’s intentions in Africa are not genuine.

Both Presidents Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan were present at the FOCAC summit in Sharm el-Sheikh. In contrast to the statements made by the Heritage Foundation, Zimbabwe hailed the fourth ministerial meeting of FOCAC as a “very successful meeting.” (Zimbabwe Herald, November 11)

After the Zimbabwe delegation returned from Sharm el-Sheikh, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, who accompanied President Robert Mugabe to Egypt, said that “It was a very successful meeting and we are pleased with the manner in which cooperation between Africa and China is developing.”

The Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Minister continued by saying “At the last summit in Beijing in 2006, China pledged to assist in a number of ways and so far 95 percent of those promises have been fulfilled. We are confident that by the end of the year all the targets will have been met.” (Herald, November 11)

President Mugabe and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao held talks on November 7 in Egypt where they agreed on establishing a new development package for Zimbabwe which has been under western imperialist imposed sanctions since 2000. Zimbabwe came under attack after it enacted a reform program that returned significant land holdings to the African people. This land had been seized by the British colonialists during the 1890s.

In President Mugabe’s address to the FOCAC summit in Sharm el-Sheikh on November 8, he said that China’s cooperation with Africa provides the best model for relations between states in the economic, political and cultural spheres. Mugabe praised China-Africa partnerships stating that Beijing had built a strong economy without engaging in looting and plundering of the developing world as the West has done for centuries. (Xinhuanet, November 11)

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