China-Africa forum kicks off in Beijing

Politics & Current Affairs

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has been held every three years since 2006, alternating between Beijing and various cities in Africa each time. This year’s FOCAC is in Beijing, and began on September 3 with a major speech by Xi Jinping.

As at past forums, the Chinese leader pledged big numbers in trade and aid to Africa. Lina Benabdallah, a scholar who studies Africa-China relations (listen to a Sinica Podcast with her), compiled a quick comparison of this year’s pledge with that of three years ago, commenting that “The figure is the same, allocated slightly differently”:

focac 2018 lina benabdallah 1

Xi notably took care to attempt to address some long-standing criticism of this trade and aid. He placed extra emphasis on aid having “no strings attached,” the Washington Post noted, and insisted ahead of the summit, “Resources for our co-operation are not to be spent on any vanity projects,” the BBC reports. Bloomberg also pointed out that Xi promised debt relief (paywall) for “unspecified poor and heavily indebted countries,” an apparent attempt to counter a common accusation of China engaging in debt-heavy diplomacy.

You can read the whole speech by Xi on Xinhua, where you can also find a list of “eight major initiatives” that Xi proposed.

Here is a selection of other notable and interesting links related to FOCAC: