Chinese president promotes Belt and Road scheme as African growth tool

Xi Jinping insisted that Chinese investment comes with no political strings attached.

Mr Xi met dozens of African leaders (AP)
Mr Xi met dozens of African leaders (AP)

Chinese president Xi Jinping has promoted Beijing’s initiative to build ports and other infrastructure to African leaders as a tool for “common prosperity” in a world facing challenges from protectionism.

Speaking to business chiefs ahead of a conference with dozens of African leaders, Mr Xi said China’s “Belt and Road” initiative will lead to expansion in markets.

He tried to mollify concerns that Beijing wants to build strategic influence, promising Chinese investment comes with “no political strings attached”.

In a speech, Mr Xi said: “Unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise. Economic growth lacks robust drive.

“China-Africa co-operation under the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) is a way to common prosperity that brings benefits to both our peoples.”

Mr Xi meets South African president Cyril Ramaphosa (AP)

African and other Asian leaders have welcomed “Belt and Road”, but some projects have prompted complaints about debt and other problems.

The initiative involves hundreds of projects, most of them built by Chinese contractors and financed by loans from Chinese state-owned banks, across an arc of 65 countries from the South Pacific through Asia to Africa and the Middle East.

The Forum on China-Africa Co-operation brings together leaders from China and more than 50 African countries. Dozens of African leaders met Mr Xi ahead of the conference.

The Chinese leader made no mention of the political and debt concerns that overshadow some “Belt and Road” projects. However, Chinese officials previously have rejected accusations that projects leave host countries too deeply indebted to Chinese lenders.

“China’s investment in Africa comes with no political strings attached,” said Mr Xi.

“China does not interfere in Africa’s internal affairs and does not impose its own will on Africa.”

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