Beijing Wraps Up Forum on China-Africa Cooperation with Pledges of Aid and Cooperation

BEIJING WRAPS UP FORUM ON CHINA-AFRICA COOPERATION WITH PLEDGES OF AID AND COOPERATION

The two-day Beijing summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) concluded with additional pledges of support from China in the form of bilateral and multilateral cooperation, loans and lucrative contracts. Among the various infrastructure development projects that were discussed between Beijing and its African counterparts were a number of undertakings focused upon the development of transportation links that would facilitate in the transfer of oil and other natural resources. In his meeting with President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, President Hu Jintao agreed to continue supporting the construction of the Kima-Chemasuru Road as well as the Kipsagak-Serem-Shamakhokho Road, both of which run through western Kenya (KBC Online, November 4). Beijing also agreed to assist a massive housing and roads project in Equatorial Guinea in conjunction with the granting of a US$2 billion interest-free loan to the central African state (AFP, November 8).

In addition, as part of its soft power campaign in Africa, Beijing agreed to establish Confucius Institutes throughout additional countries. China’s Confucius Institutes, the first of which were established at the University of Nairobi in Kenya last December, are organizations that focus upon Chinese language and cultural instruction and have become immensely popular. According to China’s Ministry of Education, some 8,000 African students are studying Chinese at Confucius Institutes as well as at other language centers. On the sidelines of the summit, the second conference of Chinese and African Entrepreneurs was also held and ended with a total of $1.9 billion in private contracts being signed (Ghanaweb, November 5). In addition, the business communities of each side agreed to establish a China-Africa Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry to facilitate the exponentially increasing trade relationship. Just days after the conclusion of the FOCAC meeting, Nigeria announced that its second satellite, the Chinese manufactured NigCom Sat I, would be launched on March 13, 2007.

Jamestown intern Alexandra Frasca provided research assistance.