China promises Africa debt relief as Xi counters aid criticism
SEE ALSO :US, China trade debates persist“We will fully honor the promises we have made to our African brothers,” Xi told the gathering. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, Egypt's Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta were present. In recent months, Beijing has faced criticism about its debt practices from countries ranging from Australia to India, with even some Chinese academics airing doubts at home. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad warned against “a new version of colonialism” during a visit to Beijing last month after suspending a $20 billion (Sh2 trillion) Chinese-built rail project. External criticism Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China, said Xi emphasised both inclusiveness and a desire to ensure projects are viable. “The reason behind these changes is that China’s economy is facing new difficulties, China’s accumulating lessons in Africa and absorbing some external criticism,” Shi said. While Beijing-backed investment has provided African governments much-needed infrastructure without the West’s political and fiscal demands, it has also generated complaints about China’s preference for loans and reluctance to use local labour. Such concerns have grown as Xi extended his Belt and Road plan across much of the globe and tied it to his ambition of completing his country’s return to great power status.
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