Beijing Defends Its Activities During African Development Bank Meeting

Reflecting China’s increasing economic ties and growing political influence within Africa, the May 16-17 annual meeting of the African Development Bank (ADB) is currently being held in Shanghai, only the second time that an ADB meeting has been held outside of Africa (the first was in Spain in 2001) and the first held in Asia. The two-day meeting is being attended by some 2,000 individuals, including finance ministers and central bank officials from more than 50 member countries (Xinhua, May 16, 2007). Three African heads of state—President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, President of Cape Verde Pedro Pire and President of Madagascar Marc Ravalomanana—are also attending the annual meeting and will hold summit talks with the Chinese leadership during their visit to China.

China, which has been an ADB member since 1985, has been sensitive to recent Western and African accusations of engaging in neocolonialist behavior, stripping the continent of its resources in return for little substantial developmental assistance, and has sought to use the annual meeting as an opportunity to demonstrate its good intentions. Countering China’s critics, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao stated during the opening ceremonies, “We are truly sincere in helping Africa speed up economic and social development for the benefit of the African people and its nations” (China Daily, May 16). Wen also reiterated Beijing’s willingness to fulfill the promises of aid and assistance that Hu had pledged during the Forum on China and Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in November 2006. “We will fully deliver on our statement,” Wen emphasized, “and we are working with African countries to implement these measures,” which include the doubling of Chinese aid to Africa by 2009 and the creation of a $5 billion investment fund.