Beijing pledges $20 bln in credit to Africa

Beijing pledges $20 bln in credit to Africa

BEIJING - The Associated Press
Beijing pledges $20 bln in credit to Africa

Chinese President Jintao delivers an opening speech at the China-Africa forum. AP photo

Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday pledged African governments $20 billion in credit over the next three years and called for more China-Africa coordination in international affairs to defend against the “bullying” of richer powers.

Hu made the lending pledge during the opening ceremony of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing. The credit line is double the amount offered in 2009 at the last forum held in Egypt.

Hu promised more Chinese help for African countries in building agricultural technology centers, training medical and other personnel, and digging wells to expand access to clean water. China will encourage investment and assistance in infrastructure that facilitates trade within Africa, he said.

China has emerged as Africa’s main trading partner and a major source of investment for infrastructure, pouring billions of dollars into roads and developing the energy sector across the continent.

Trade between the two sides hit a record $166 billion last year, a three-fold increase since 2006.

But China’s presence in Africa has also sparked concerns about labor abuses and corruption. Some observers see Chinese investment in Africa as an unequal partnership between an emerging economic giant and the world’s poorest continent and accuse Beijing of offering no-strings-attached investment for repressive regimes.

In his remarks, Hu stressed China’s status as a still-developing nation and noted Africa is the region with the world’s largest number of developing countries. He said both should jointly work to defend their interests in global forums such as the United Nations.

“China and Africa should increase coordination and cooperation in international affairs,” Hu said during his speech.