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China Goes Big in Africa

China has grabbed headlines over the last few days by announcing that they will invest US$60 billion dollars towards economic development in Africa over the next three years. Much of the aid will come in the form of interest-free loans.

The plan includes funding for major infrastructure projects, particularly in areas which regularly export commodities to China. Emphasis will also be placed on overhauling and modernizing the agricultural industry, along with funding for education, medicine, and emergency food aid.

The announcement took place at the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation, an event that is held every three years with leaders from dozens of African nations.

According to The New York Times, “This forum’s slogan—’Africa–China Progressing Together: Win–Win Cooperation for Common Development’—seemed designed to deflect growing criticism that the benefits of the relationship have largely been in China’s favor.”

President Xi Jinping, co-chair of the summit, also made a point of stressing that China would not interfere with Africa’s domestic affairs, a position that Beijing would like to contrast with the Western criticism and concern over issues around the continent, especially human rights violations.

China is Africa’s largest trading partner, and despite seeing a significant dip in trade volume earlier in 2015, it is clear now just how dedicated they are to maintaining this relationship for the long term.

Beyond economic aid, China also plans to construct its first overseas military base in Djibouti, strategically located at the entrance to the Red Sea.

H/T: The New York Times