Expert defends China-Africa cooperation against Tillerson’s claim

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Beijing is a better partner for Africa than Washington because Chinese investment has improved people’s lives here, an Ethiopian expert has said.

Abebe Aynete, a senior researcher with Ethiopian Foreign Relations Strategic Studies Institute, said the Chinese investment in infrastructure has brought changes in African countries that is “plain to see.”

Aynete said U.S. accusations about China-Africa cooperation is “detached from reality.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is on a five-nation African tour, was quoted by media as criticising the way Beijing structured loans to African countries during his visit to the African Union headquarters in capital Addis Ababa on Thursday.

Tillerson also claimed that Chinese investments did not lead to significant job creation in Africa.

“The Chinese investment in Africa focuses on infrastructure, while the U.S. for a long time has focused on promoting its values.

“The choice is for Africans to decide who is a better partner.

“The statement from Tillerson comes from the fact (that) the U. S. fears that it has lost its influence on Africa to China,” Aynete said.

NAN reports that Tillerson said that African countries should be careful not to forfeit their sovereignty when they accept loans from China, the continent’s biggest trading partner.

Tillerson is using his first diplomatic trip to the continent to bolster security alliances on a continent increasingly turning to Beijing for aid and trade.

He may also seek to smooth relations after U.S. President Trump reportedly dismissed some African nations as “shithole countries” in January. Trump later denied making the comment.

“We are not in any way attempting to keep Chinese dollars from Africa,” Tillerson told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital.

“It is important that African countries carefully consider the terms of those agreements and not forfeit their sovereignty.”

The U. S. is the leading aid donor to Africa but China surpassed it as a trade partner in 2009.

Beijing has pumped billions into infrastructure projects, though critics say the use of Chinese firms and labour undermines their value.

Tillerson said Chinese investments “do not bring significant job creation locally” and criticised how Beijing structures loans to African government.

If a government accepts a Chinese loan and “gets into trouble”, he said, it can “lose control of its own infrastructure or its own resources through default.”

He did not give examples.

The growing Chinese lending to the continent has also attracted criticism from some Africans, who say China’s agenda is to feed its appetite for African raw materials like oil, timber and minerals, and secure contracts for its firms.(Xinhua/NAN)

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