China’s Xi offers $60bn in financial support to Africa

China’s President Xi Jinping has offered $60bn in financial support to African countries and written off debt for the continent’s poorer nations.

Speaking at the opening of a major summit with African leaders in Beijing on Monday, Xi said the figure included $15bn in grants, interest-free loans, and concessional loans, a credit line of $20bn, $10bn for “development financing” and $5bn to buy imports from the continent.

Chinese companies will be encouraged to invest no less than $10bn in African countries in the next three years, he added.

Government debt from China’s interest-free loans due by the end of 2018 will be written off for indebted poor African countries, as well as for developing nations in the continent’s interior and small island nations, Xi said.

China will carry out 50 projects on green development and environmental protection in Africa, focusing on fighting climate change, desertification and wildlife protection, the Chinese leader said.

Xi pledged, without giving details, that China would set up a peace and security fund and a related forum while continuing to provide free military assistance to the African Union.

The offer of more funds comes after a pledge of a similar amount at the previous Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in South Africa three years ago.

Chinese officials say this year’s summit will strengthen the continent’s role in Xi’s “Belt and Road” initiative, which has already seen billions of dollars loaned to countries in Asia and Africa for roads, railways, ports and other major infrastructure projects.

Beijing loaned around $125bn to the continent from 2000 to 2016, according to data from the China-Africa Research Initiative at Washington’s Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Every African country is represented at the business forum apart from eSwatini, self-ruled Taiwan’s last African ally that has so far rejected China’s overtures to ditch Taipei and recognize Beijing.

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