China in Africa: investment or exploitation?
Premier Li Keqiang shrugs off problems as “growing pains” and says relationship is based on equality and mutual benefit.
China’s Premier Li Keqiang is making his first visit to Africa since taking office last year. The week-long trip will take him to Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya.
China is investing billions of dollars in Africa but Beijing has been accused of exploiting the continent’s vast mineral and energy resources, at the expense of local people. Premier Li has dismissed talk of any problems as “growing pains” and “isolated incidents”.
China has been Africa’s biggest trade partner since 2009. Bilateral trade stood at just under $11bn in 2000, by 2006 this figure had jumped to nearly $60bn and last year bilateral trade had soared to $210bn.
Chinese investment in African countries has also risen some thirty fold in the past ten years. Foreign direct investment went from $500mn in 2003 to almost $15bn by 2012. And last year, China pledged $20bn in loans for infrastructure development.
Premier Li called on Chinese companies to “shoulder responsibility” for local communities in Africa, adding: “I wish to assure our African friends in all seriousness that China will never pursue a colonialist path like some countries did or allow colonialism, which belonged to the past, to reappear in Africa.”
But what is at stake for African countries, and who stands to gain the most from the China-Africa relationship?