President Julius Maada Bio, Cote d'Ivoire's President Alassane Ouattara, Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Burkina Faso's President Roch Marc Christian Kabore are attending the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and paying state visits to China from Aug. 28 to Sept. 7 successively, at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang disclosed.
In Beijing’s eyes, Africa is rich in valuable resources and is quite a capacious vast market, with a population of 1.2 billion people, for its goods, the continent is also one of the largest recipients of Chinese investments.
Long-term plans include transforming Africa into a manufacturing zone, that China, having invested on a large scale in, could move its production facilities to, in order to be closer to sources of raw materials and labor. Ultimately, this will allow China to free itself of old technologies and clear the path for the fourth wave of innovation. Part of this strategy includes PRC’s interest in transforming Africa into a stable peaceful zone because only such a scenario would justify large-scale investments in this continent, and ensure steadfast sales of Chinese goods there.
This strategy was developed at the beginning of 2000s and it has been systematically updated since then. Starting in 2006, White Papers on China’s policies in Africa have been published, and they increasingly focus on the continent’s security and the fight against terrorism. From Beijing’s point of view, providing security is closely linked with eliminating poverty and underdevelopment, and these are the processes that China would like to take part in with its goods, technologies and investments.
For China, security and development are intertwined, and take priority over actively promoted Western doctrines that link human rights with democracy, as well as appropriate management with economic progress. Guided by its own experience, Beijing does not subscribe to this doctrine and spends its time actively promoting its own vision, based on the need to support economic development and ensure security, while for the most part ignoring progress made by various countries in the spheres of democracy and human rights.
In addition, China believes that it should not meddle in African internal affairs or participate in military interventions, as do Western nations in order to reach their own political and economic goals. China’s priority is to safeguard its interests by taking part in numerous peace-making missions in the continent and thus guarantee security of its investments.
To further its interests, Beijing also uses means such as aid in the form of grants, interest-free and low interest loans, debt write-off, charitable construction projects, tax exempt import of certain African goods, sending experts to African countries, establishment of health centres and educating African students.
All of this leads to China’s rapidly growing influence; the Chinese language is even becoming the language of cross-national communication between students, as is the case in Kenya.
In order to bring these ambitious policies to life, China has created an arsenal of tools and mechanisms. Under the auspices of Chinese state bodies, the investment projects are being strategically implemented by China Development Bank, and China Investment Corporation, which is a sovereign wealth fund.
Among specialized aid agencies, the China-Africa Development Fund (CAD Fund), the Development of Productive Capacities Fund, the Small and Medium-Size Enterprises Development Fund, the Silk Road Fund, the Confucius Institute and the Human Resource Development Foundation are worth mentioning.
So far, the CAD Fund has invested $3.2 billion in 91 projects in 36 African countries over the course of 10 years. Overall, Chinese investments in Africa amount to $100 billion.
The Fund invests capital in the energy sector, infrastructure, mining and processing of natural resources, and agriculture. These types of Chinese projects in Africa include the construction of more than 100 industrial parks, over 40% of which are already operational. By the end of 2016, 5756 km of railway lines, 4335 km of roads, 9 ports, 14 airports, 34 power stations and also 10 large and thousands of small hydroelectric power stations had been built!
Thus, China has achieved impressive results in Africa over the past 10 to 12 years. Having developed the right long-term strategy supported by effective financial and political instruments as well as financial resources, China has developed the most fruitful policy, which at present is much more successful than those of other nations. And this is something that everyone will have to reckon with.