It’s Africa’s Choice: AFRICOM Or ‘The New Silk Roads’

07-09-18 07:26:00,

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

When China calls, all Africa answers. And Beijing’s non-politicization of investments and non-interference in internal affairs is paying off big time…

The dogs of war – cold, hot, trade, tariffs – bark while the Chinese caravan plies the New Silk Roads. Call it a leitmotif of the young 21st century.

At the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, President Xi Jinping has just announced a hefty US$60 billion package to complement another US$60 billion pledged at the 2015 summit.

That breaks down to $15 billion in grants and interest-free loans; $20 billion in credit lines; a $10 billion fund for development financing; $5 billion to finance imports from Africa; and waving the debt of the poorest African nations diplomatically linked to China.

When China calls, all Africa answers.

First, we had ministers from 53 African nations plus the African Union (AU) Commission approving the Beijing Declaration and the FOCAC Action Plan (2019-21).

Then, after the $60 billion announcement, we had Beijing signing memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with nine African nations – including South Africa and Egypt – related to the New Silk Roads/Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Additionally, other 20 African nations are discussing further cooperation agreements.

Debt trap or integration?

That does not exactly paint the picture of the BRI as a vicious debt trap enabling China to take over Africa’s top strategic assets. On the contrary, the BRI is seen as integrating with Africa’s own Agenda 2063, a “strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years” tackling unemployment, inequality and poverty.

Apart from letting the numbers speak for themselves, Xi deftly counter-punched the current, massive BRI demonization campaign:

“Only the people of China and Africa have the right to comment on whether China-Africa cooperation is doing well … No one should deny the significant achievement of China-Africa cooperation based on their assumptions and speculation.”

And once again Xi felt the need to stress the factor that does seduce, Africa-wide – Chinese non-politicization of investments, and Chinese non-interference in the internal affairs of African nations.

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