Buhari Participates In China-Africa Cooperation Forum

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Xi made no mention of the political and debt concerns that overshadow some BRI projects.

The massive Belt and Road scheme is aimed at improving Chinese access to foreign markets and resources, and boosting Beijing's influence overseas.

China has pledged a $60 billion fund to bolster industry, counter hunger, and enhance security in Africa, a continent that has been chronically plagued by piracy and terrorism.

Among the eight verticals flagged on Monday, President Xi highlighted China's intent to set up additional economic and trade cooperation zones to promote industrialisation in Africa.

"Only the people of China and Africa have the right to comment on whether China-Africa cooperation is doing well", Xi said.

Xi said China would increase cooperation with the continent, including expanding imports of products beyond resources.

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President Xi said the initiative was not, "a scheme to form an exclusive club or bloc against others".

Over the past 18 years, FOCAC has become a significant platform for collective dialogue between China and African countries and a leading mechanism for worldwide ties with Africa and also South-South cooperation.

China planned to exempt some African countries from interest-free loans due by the end of the year, Xi said, adding that the relief would be granted to the continent's poorest and most heavily indebted countries.

Belt and Road has been criticized by many global analysts and leaders for its debt-heavy structures that unfairly burden the Asian, European, and African nations receiving its funds.

South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa who was also the co-chairperson of the session, said FOCAC refutes the misconception by some quarters that it is a new form of colonialism in Africa, pointing out that the Forum is on the contrary beneficial to the people of China and Africa.

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Last month, Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad canceled more than $20 billion worth of planned Chinese infrastructure projects, saying he was concerned about paying for them.

"Africa is not a zero-sum game", Kagame said. "China dreams of national renewal and Africa of unity and invigoration and a day will come when both aspirations will be achieved", said Xi.

China loaned around $125 billion to the continent from 2000 to 2016, data from the China-Africa Research Initiative at Washington's Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies shows.

"Africa is still at the initial stage of industrialization, and the process is very likely to collapse without sustainable investment growth", the state-linked Global Times reported Monday.

Xi also stressed that China will resolutely safeguard on open world economy and multilateral trade system while rejecting protectionism and unilateralism.

"We export to China what we extract from the earth and China imports to us what it makes from its factories", said Ramaphosa, describing uneven arrangement as limiting, given Africa's quest to extract full value from its natural resources.

During the meeting, President Buhari had said he was not afraid of a free and fair election in 2019.

China has been Africa's top trading partner for nine consecutive years.

Chinese state-owned companies have aggressively pursued large investments in Africa, whose vast resources have helped fuel China's transformation into an economic powerhouse.

African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki acknowledged that concerns have been expressed about debt, but said "the risks must be put into perspective" as "Africa's financing needs are such that it must seize every opportunity offered to it".

China has doubled its financial aid and investment pledges to Africa and promised to waive the debt of the continent's least-developed nations as Beijing seeks to extend its economic and political reach in the region.