China’s President Xi Jinping has defended the country’s investments in Africa, saying they are not for “vanity projects” but are aimed at building infrastructure that would promote development on the continent.
Mr Xi made the remarks ahead of the triennial China-Africa summit in the capital, Beijing.
“China does not interfere in Africa’s internal affairs and does not impose its own will on Africa. What we value is the sharing of development experience and the support we can offer to Africa’s national rejuvenation and prosperity,” he added.
China loaned around $125bn (£112bn) to the continent from 2000 to 2016, data from the China-Africa Research Initiative at Washington’s Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies shows.
The money has been used to build bridges, roads, ports and stadiums, some whose economic viability has been questioned.
China’s influential Global Times newspaper refuted reports that Chinese investment in Africa is a “debt trap”.
It wrote in an editorial on Monday: “Western media deliberately portray Africans in misery for collaborating with China and they appear to have discovered big news by finding occasional complaints in the African media about Sino-Africa cooperation.”
Mr Xi also urged Chinese companies to respect the culture and traditions of host countries. This comes at a time when there is growing tension between Chinese workers and their hosts.
In a related development Xi Jinping has offered $60bn (Shs225.8 trillion) of additional financing for Africa. He was speaking at the opening of a China-Africa summit in Beijing.
President Xi defended China’s investment programme in Africa, saying there were no political strings attached to the projects – which he said were of mutual benefit.
Critics have been warning that African countries have been going into unsustainable levels of debt with China which has loaned billions of dollars to finance major infrastructure development.
Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, dismissed talk of debt traps, and said the China-Africa relationship was vital.
The South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said the summit refutes the view that a new colonialism was taking hold in Africa.