Africa-China Summit 2018
China announced USD 60 billion in additional financing to support Africa’s development at the 3rd Forum for Africa-China Co-operation (FOCAC) Summit, which was held in Beijing on 3-4 September. The biggest Africa event in China brought together leaders from nearly all African countries (except Swaziland), Chinese officials and representatives from the African Union Commission. Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a win-win co-operation between China and Africa. The Beijing Declaration outlined a new commitment called, “Toward an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.” The declaration is supported by a 2019-21 action plan. Burkina Faso and Gambia joined the forum as new members. The financial package is the same amount China pledged at the previous FOCAC Summit in 2015 in Johannesburg. While China continues to focus on industrial development and infrastructure projects, especially with its “Belt and Road” initiative, it now also intends to place stronger emphasis on people-to-people exchanges. The Beijing action plan puts forward eight major initiatives that focus on: industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity-building, health care, people-to-people exchanges and peace and security. On the side-lines of the summit, a large number of bilateral meetings were held. A new chapter of “bilateral friendly co-operation” between Burkina Faso and China was initiated on 31 August, with the official opening of a new Burkinabé embassy in Beijing. The two countries resumed diplomatic relations only three months ago, when Burkina Faso accepted the “One China” policy. Burkina Faso was the second last African country to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan. China is also heavily investing in Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Senegal. China has become Senegal’s largest investor. It is building a highway linking Dakar to Touba, part of an industrial park in Diamniadio and many other projects for a total of USD 1.6 billion. In response to concerns about Africa’s rising debt, Senegalese President Macky Sall declared, “Africa should not let Western criticism about its debt with China disturb its conscience.” It is estimated that Africa has borrowed about USD 130 billion from China since 2000. Senegal will host the FOCAC ministerial conference in 2021.