April 22, 2015, 6:27 am
At the opening of the Africa-Asia Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday urged rich countries to help the developing world with no political strings attached and fulfill their aid commitments.
In Jakarta, Xi said the “South-North cooperation should be based on mutual respect and equality”.
“Developed countries have a binding responsibility to help the developing world and bridge the gap between the South and the North,” read a translated version of Xi’s speech at the Summit. Xi urged for a “new type of international relations” to usher in African-Asian solidarity.
The Summit host Indonesian President Joko Widodo echoed the Chinese President saying those pinning hopes on the World Bank, IMF and Asian Development Bank were harbouring “obsolete ideas”.
“There needs to be change,” Widodo said. “It’s imperative that we build a new international economic order that is open to new emerging economic powers.”
China, with $4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, is pushing for the growth of its own multilateral bodies, including the AIIB, the BRICS Bank and a bank for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, but also seeking to strengthen its voice at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
In a landmark achievement, 21 Asian nations including China and India in October last year signed on the creation of a new infrastructure investment bank, the AIIB, which would rival the World Bank. The new Bank has a capital target of more than $100 billion.
Also this year, China’s yuan may win the IMF’s backing as an official reserve currency, a recognition of its rising use in global trade and finance.
Beijing’s relations with Africa have flourished in the past decade with massive Chinese investment across the continent.
China has announced it is increasing its loans for African countries by $10 billion, bringing the total to $30 billion, and will also expand the China-Africa development fund by $2 billion to $5 billion.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang outlined China’s Africa policy in an address at the African Union headquarters in May last year.
China-Africa trade totaled more than $200 billion in 2013, and Chinese direct investment in Africa grew 44 per cent. The number has doubled from $100 billion in 2008.
Even before Beijing’s economic boom, China’s Communist leaders supported national liberation movements and newly independent states across the African continent forging historical ties.
Through its BRICS partner, South Africa, Beijing is already consolidating ties with African countries, where China is increasingly turning for resources, markets and diplomatic influence.
South Africa is hosting the regional African center of the newly announced BRICS Bank.
Critics of Chinese investment in Africa have, however, alleged the Asian giant harbours neo-colonial intentions.
“We welcome foreign direct investment (FDI), we are not discriminating…We’ve taken money from Germany, the U.K. the United States – why was it not a story, why is it a story when the Chinese do so?” South African President Jacob Zuma said earlier.
The Asian-African Summit is underway in Indonesia from April 22-24.
The conveners of the first Asia-Africa Summit held in 1955 were India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka which was attended by representatives from 29 Asian and African nations.
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