Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao offered Africa $10 billion in concessional loans over the next three years on Sunday, saying China was a “true and trusted friend” of the continent and its people.
The aid offer is double that unveiled by President Hu Jintao at the last summit in Beijing in 2006, as China aims to boost a relationship which politically goes back decades and is now economically booming — to the discomfort of some in the West.
“We will help Africa build up financing capacity,” Wen told a summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, laying out China’s assistance to the continent for the next three years. “We will provide $10 billion in concessional loans to African countries.”
Blossoming trade and business ties have drawn Western criticism that Beijing is only interested in African resources, while Chinese commentators retort that envious Europeans still treat the continent like a colony.
China’s friendship with Africa dates back to the 1950s, when Beijing backed liberation movements in the continent fighting to throw off colonial rule.
Wen was keen to underscore the depth of that relationship. “Whatever changes may take place in the world, our friendship with African people will not change,” he said.
Trade has jumped in the past decade, driven by Chinese hunger for resources to power its economic boom and African demand for cheap Chinese products.
Still, this has not been without its critics, who say China is only interested in African resources and supports governments with dubious human rights records as a means to get them.
Such criticism makes China angry, and draws rebukes that the West still views Africa as though it were a colony. “The West is envious of China and Africa drawing closer,” popular Chinese tabloid the Global Times, published by Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, wrote on Tuesday.
“Europeans view Africa as their own backyard,” the newspaper quoted Chinese Africa expert Xu Weizhong as saying. “Of course they feel uncomfortable about the arrival of the Chinese.”
Some Africans welcome how China’s approach differs from that of Europe or the United States.
“China’s policy is based on mutual development.
Few Western countries have a foreign policy like this — most are about telling Africans what to do,” said Kwaku Atuahene-Gima, executive director of the Africa programme at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai.
Via Times if India