By Tridivesh Singh Maini
From the article:
While addressing the opening of the Forum of China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Chinese President Xi Jinping sought to allay fears of not just African countries, but other countries which are part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). President Xi, while emphasizing the mutually beneficial synergies, did try to highlight some of the problems related to BRI albeit in a very subtle manner. In the context of China-Africa cooperation, President Xi fleshed out China’s key initiatives in the continent and highlighted the assistance which Beijing will be providing in areas like agriculture, green development, and education over the next few years.
While Africa’s dependence upon Beijing is increasing, concerns have been growing in certain quarters about the rising levels of debt in certain countries. According to a report released by the Centre for Global Development in December 2017, China’s share of debt in Djibouti, where Beijing has built an overseas military base, could rise from a staggering 85 percent to over 90 percent of GDP. Two of the big-ticket projects being funded and built by Beijing in Djibouti are a multi-purpose port at Doraleh and an international airport. Another country which is economically vulnerable according to the report is Kenya, where over 70 percent of the country’s bilateral debt is owned by China. Former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a visit to Africa in March 2018 had stated that the US did not want to deny Africa access to Chinese financing, but African countries needed to be judicious and ensure that economic dependence on China does not ultimately impact their sovereignty in any way.
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