China's Xi to visit Africa as U.S. frets over Beijing influence

BEIJING Sat Mar 9, 2013 12:14am EST

China's Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping arrives for a plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing March 8, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee

China's Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping arrives for a plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing March 8, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Incoming Chinese president Xi Jinping's first trip as head of state will take him to Africa, the government said on Saturday, as China seeks to cement a growing trade and energy relationship that has caused alarm bells to ring in Washington.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said that Xi, scheduled to take over formally from Hu Jintao as national leader next week, would visit South Africa, Tanzania and Republic of Congo, as well as Russia, though he provided no exact dates.

"China and Africa are good brothers, good friends and good partners. The visit by China's new national chairman to Africa fully shows the importance we attach to Sino-African ties," Yang told a news conference at China's annual parliament meeting.

While in South Africa Xi will attend a summit of BRICS nations -- made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- which will be held in Durban at the end of March, he added.

China has courted Africa for decades, but its efforts have kicked into high gear in recent years as Beijing seeks to satisfy growing demand for raw materials and energy for its booming economy, now the world's second largest.

Last year Hu offered $20 billion in loans to African countries over the coming three years, part of what China says is a no-strings-attached aid policy widely appreciated in Africa.

Many Western nations though say China turns a blind eye to rights abuses and corruption in handing out aid and loans in its bid to get access to resources like oil, copper and timber.

U.S. Senator Chris Coons, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, called on Thursday for early renewal of U.S. trade benefits for Africa as part of a broader strategy to counter growing Chinese investment and influence on the continent of nearly one billion people.

Yang said such concerns were unwarranted, and that China's interest in Africa was not meant to exclude any other country and was in line with the African people's wishes.

"Now all countries are pushing forward their cooperation with Africa, and China sincerely welcomes such a development," he added.

"At the same time we hope that all parties will view China-Africa cooperation in an objective light and respect Africa's choice of its own development partners. We hope that there will be more exchanges and mutual learning and less suspicion or accusations."

(Reporting by Terril Yue Jones, writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jonathan Standing and Michael Perry)

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Comments (5)
Janeallen wrote:
China has two advantages in Africa that the United States must accept and recognize. China never involved been involved with the shameful western history of exploiting Africa under the pretext of civilizing it. Consequently, China never allowed itself to be entangled with any inter-religious or inter-sectarian violence, such as the fighting between Christians and Muslims in Africa.

In fact, that is why China is able to help the United States in the tussle between the Iraqi Government, the American oil companies and the Kurdish separatists. The United States can choose to see the Chinese involvement as a source of new opportunities, or a source of threats. A

A mere few days ago, I exhorted a blogger from China not to fret, because, it is bound to backfire. In this case, I exhort Washington not to fret but react positively for our own good and for the good of the entire world.

Mar 09, 2013 1:58pm EST  --  Report as abuse
MikeBarnett wrote:
In 2011, the former owners of African slaves and Jim Crow enforcers helped the former colonial masters of Africa drop bombs on Africans in a former African colony. The African Union and China condemned the US and NATO exceeding of the UN resolution, but the former owners of African slaves and Jim Crow enforcers and the former colonial masters of Africa ignored the African Union and China. Fortunately, US trade with Africa fell in 2012 while China’s trade with Africa grew by double digits. There is an economic price for disrespect.

In addition, the US trades with 50% of the world because the slave owners, Jim Crow enforcers, and genocidal mass murderers of native Americans say that other countries are bad. Without being too critical of the US, all countries have skeletons in their closets. China ignores US hypocrisy and trades with almost 100% of the world. The US chooses to lose the trade competition.

Further, China adds infrastructure projects to build schools, clinics, sports stadiums, shopping centers, machine shops, factories, power plants, roads, railroads, airports, and port facilities. The first three provide a healthy, educated workforce, the basic need for a modern industrial state. The middle four provide energy, manufacturing facilities, and sales areas for people to work, earn paychecks, and become customers and tax payers. The last four provide transportation for raw materials, finished goods, workers, customers, and tourists to create the wealth for a vibrant economy. China knows that it trades more with rich countries than with poor countries, so it adds economic improvements with its purchases of raw materials. The US merely buys the minerals or sells its products and runs without concern for the future growth of markets because US companies can’t see beyond their current quarter’s bottom lines. Unless the US changes its business model to promote long term growth, the US will continue to lose trade to China in Africa.

Mar 09, 2013 5:40pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Free_Pacific wrote:
Janeallen wrote: ” China never involved been involved with the shameful western history of exploiting Africa under the pretext of civilizing it.”

No, it was busy and is still busy doing the same thing in Qurighar and Tibet. Not to mention their colonial empire building in the West Philippine sea and in Japanese waters as we speak.

Janeallen wrote: “Consequently, China never allowed itself to be entangled with any inter-religious or inter-sectarian violence, such as the fighting between Christians and Muslims in Africa”

Like they had and currently have in Qurighar and Tibet.

Mar 10, 2013 5:19am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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