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China's clear commitments to Africa get to point, experts say

2014-05-09 09:58 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (C) attends the World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 8, 2014. [Xinhua/Li Xueren]

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (C) attends the World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 8, 2014. [Xinhua/Li Xueren]

The commitments made by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to upgrade support for Africa's development are clear and get to the point, experts said Thursday.

China will earmark more than half of its foreign aid for Africa and attach no preconditions, the visiting Chinese premier told a World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, earlier in the day. [Special coverage]

"China will, as always, continue to increase its assistance to Africa in both quantity and quality to the extent of its ability, ensuring that more than half of its foreign aid will go to Africa," Li said.

The messages were warmly welcomed by Aminu Wali, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria.

"It has been a great speech as far as Africa is concerned, very comprehensive. He outlined what China has been through, what China stands for, what China-Africa relations are like, and he has defined it in such a way that it leaves no doubt or no area which is grey," the minister said.

"It has been quite clear in terms of the commitments of China as a nation to support and cooperate with Africa to uplift the lives of the population," he added.

Li said China will never use its aid to interfere in the internal affairs of African countries, and will help Africa develop the networks of high-speed railways, expressways and regional airports.

Bright Simons, President of mPedigree Network, a global partnership against fake medicine, said: "Everybody is coming here and lecturing us about human rights and all these things. That is fine, but it doesn't change the fundamentals of the current African condition, which is that we don't have material power."

"This is the first world leader to come to a conference like this and make commitments on technology transfer. China will share aviation technology, collaborate on railway technology and finance infrastructure. Those are the centerpiece of their relations with Africa," he said.

Patrick Maluki, lecturer on diplomacy at the University of Nairobi, said that Chinese expertise is needed in Kenya to set up special economic zones that would later become manufacturing hubs for leather, cement, agricultural inputs and motor vehicle parts.

Francis Chigunta, senior lecturer of development studies at the University of Zambia, said this type of cooperation is long over-due and should assure Africa that China is not interested in imposing anything.

"These remarks are intended to assure African governments that China means well and wants the cooperation to have mutual benefit," he said, adding "this also defeats long-held beliefs by some that China has the colonial mentality with its engagement in Africa."

Calling China an "all-weather friend," Peter Machungwa, senior lecturer of management and business studies at the Zambia Open University and a former Zambian minister, said China has been a very good friend of Africa for a long time and has helped Africa in many areas such as improving infrastructure and the economic well-being of many countries.

In his speech, the Chinese premier also assured the audience that China continues to enjoy solid foundation for sustained economic growth despite recent slowdown.

"We have the confidence and capability to meet the expected growth target of around 7.5 percent for this year," he said.

Li is on a four-nation Africa tour, which has taken him to Ethiopia and Nigeria. He is currently visiting Angola and will then travel to Kenya.

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