08 May Improving China’s image in Africa
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Africa aims to reinforce his country’s economic ties with the continent – but also to boost China’s image in the region and on the global stage. China is currently Africa’s largest trade partner, but Chinese involvement in Africa has also led to tensions.
The last decade has seen a massive influx of Chinese trade, investment, aid and loans to the continent. China’s bilateral trade with African countries reached nearly US$210 billion (SG$262 bn) last year. But China has been accused of exploiting Africa for its resources, with allegations that Chinese firms have breached safety and environmental standards in Africa. Others have alleged that China is reluctant to fulfil its past pledges of aid and investment to the continent, made at a time when commodity prices were higher.
Premier Li’s visit demonstrates that China is extremely conscious of these issues. During his visit, Premier Li called on Chinese companies to “shoulder responsibility” for local communities, and stressed that “China will never pursue a colonialist path” in Africa. In addition, Premier Li pledged US$100 million in aid for wildlife-protection projects in Africa, acknowledging environmental concerns.
Although China’s experience in doing business with Africa has not been entirely smooth, Premier Li’s visit does underscore that Chinese involvement in Africa will continue for the forseeable future. In his speech to the African Union on Monday, Mr. Li vowed that trade between China and Africa would double to US$400 billion (SG$499 bn) by 2020, while China’s cumulative investment in the region would quadruple to $100 billion (SG$125 bn).
China Takes Wary Steps Into New Africa Deals [Wall Street Journal, 6 May 2014]
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons