Building Bridges 2.0

In the tradition of Zheng He, modern China continues to do business progressively across continents around the world.
The only dark taint in its recent history was that with Chairman Mao, who was a Jesuit puppet just like Hitler and Stalin, responsible for the deaths of between 40 to 70 million of his own people.
While Western taxpayers are apathetically funding the destruction of Middle East countries and elsewhere, China has put all its efforts in expanding its influence via soft power over countries it has dealt with  hundreds of years ago.

Foreign Investment in Africa Seen at Record $80 Billion in 2014, Report Shows

African Economy to Grow by 4.3% in 2014, 5.7% in 2015

BRUSSELS—Foreign investment in African economies will reach a record $80 billion in 2014, as business leaders in developed economies put the recession behind them and Chinese and others from emerging markets continue to show a strong interest in African assets, a report said on Monday.

The U.S., the U.K. and France still lead the foray. The three countries combined held the biggest share of Africa investments in 2012—the latest available data—totaling $178.2 billion. The so-called Brics countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—collectivelyheld investments valued at $67.7 billion, of which $27.7 billion were Chinese.

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China’s second foreign aid white paper published — finally!


Last summer, we started hearing that Chinese analysts were working on the second white paper on foreign aid. It has been many months in the works, and unexplicably delayed for months, but now, at last, the second White Paper on Foreign Aid has been published. It is much less detailed than the first, and perhaps that reflects the triumph of whatever concerns delayed it. Here’s what’s interesting.
In the three years (2010-2012) since the last report, China provided (committed? disbursed?) $14.41 bn in official development assistance (ODA), or an average of $4.8 bn per year:

  • 7.26 billion yuan ($1.17 bn) of interest-free loans
  • 32.32 billion yuan ($5.21 bn) of grants
  • 49.76 billion yuan ($8.03 bn) in concessional loans (you hui dai kuan)

These figures do not include additional funding (over $1.3 billion) provided through the UN and multilateral and regional development banks over this period.
China is also still providing debt relief in Africa. Nine countries: Tanzania, Zambia, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Togo, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Sudan, had 16 mature interest-free loans cancelled, for a total of 1.42 billion yuan ($229 mn). This continues the practice begun more than a decade ago of loan cancellation only for the interest-free loans. Countries thinking they might have their concessional loans cancelled need to think again: concessional loans have never been included in the loan forgiveness program.
The “Chinese Peace Corps” is still alive, with some 7000 volunteers sent abroad over the past three years. Why do we hear almost nothing about this program? Has anyone run across a volunteer in Africa?
Another interesting development: China is providing some assistance to Burkina Faso, a country that recognizes Taiwan. This is done as part of a WTO-related program, where Benin, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso — the Cotton-4 countries — receive cotton seeds, farm machinery and fertilizers, technology transfer and training, and support for other aspects of their cotton value chain. Cotton is probably the top agricutural export from Africa to China, so this clearly shows economics trumping politics.
For official figures on foreign aid expenditures since 2000, click <here>
A hat tip to Winslow Robertson who was even faster than my google alert to pick up news of the White Paper!

8 Facts about China’s Investments in Africa

“Considering the low priority of Africa in China’s overall foreign strategic mapping, a disproportionate level of international attention, publicity and scrutiny is paid to China’s Africa engagement,” writes Yun Sun, in a recent John L. Thornton China Center/Africa Growth Initiative paper, “Africa in China’s Foreign Policy.”
Below are selected data from her paper. Download it to read her thorough analysis of China’s interests in Africa and how China’s internal bureaucracy makes political, economic and security decisions regarding Africa policy.

  1. By the end of 2009, 45.7 percent of China’s cumulative foreign aid of ¥256.29 billion had been given to countries in Africa.
  2. China is Africa’s largest trading partner, surpassing the United States in 2009.
  3. In 2012, China’s trade with Africa reached $198.5 billion, while U.S.-African trade in 2012 was $99.8 billion.
  4. China’s trade with Africa is only 5 percent of its global trade total.
  5. More than 80 percent of China’s $93.2 billion in imports from Africa in 2011 were crude oil, raw materials and resources.
  6. In 2011, China’s investment in Africa was 4.3 percent of its global total (Asia represented 60.9 percent, Latin America 16 percent, and Europe 11.1 percent).
  7. In 2012, the China Development Bank agreed to provide $3 billion in loans to Ghana, which was almost 10 percent of Ghana’s GDP.
  8. South Africa is China’s largest trading partner in Africa, at a volume of $20.2 billion. Yet this is 4 percent of China’s trade with the European Union.

“[O]verall,” writes Sun, “Africa’s strategic importance for Beijing remains low.”

In the years to come, China’s engagement with Africa is expected to grow. The system will adapt and adopt easy fixes for some problems, for instance, by increasing spending on training African human resources or by enhancing corporate social responsibility programs for local African communities. However, given China’s priority of fueling domestic economic growth with African resources and market potential, a more profound reconsideration of China’s overall strategic engagement with Africa will be required to resolve the most fundamental problems in Sino-African relations. The inertia that currently characterizes China’s policy approaches to Africa will most likely remain unchanged in the near future. This situation deserves effective responses—from Africa and from the rest of the world.

Download the paper here, and visit both the China Center and the Africa Growth Initiative for additional research on related topics.
Mingwei Ma contributed to this post.
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Soft power,
hard cash

How Beijing has spent billions on
aid and development in Africa

china soft power
China has committed $75bn (£48bn) on aid and development projects in Africa in the past decade, according to research which reveals the scale of what some have called Beijing’s escalating soft power “charm offensive” to secure political and economic clout on the continent.
The Chinese government releases very little information on its foreign aid activities, which remain state secrets. In one of the most ambitious attempts to date to chip away at this secrecy, US researchers have launched the largest public database of Chinese development finance in Africa, detailing almost 1,700 projects in 50 countries between 2000 and 2011.
China’s financial commitments are significantly larger than previous estimates of the country’s development finance, though still less than the estimated $90bn the US committed over that period. Researchers at AidData, at the College of William and Mary, have spent 18 months compiling and encoding thousands of media reports to construct the database, and hope users will contribute further detail on the projects.
The data, which challenges what has for years been the dominant story – Beijing’s unrelenting quest for natural resources – is likely to fuel ongoing debate over China’s motives in Africa.
There are few mining projects in the database and, while transport, storage and energy initiatives account for some of the largest sums, the data also reveals how China has put hundreds of millions of dollars towards health, education and cultural projects.
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