24 Dec 2010

China defends its growing interest in Africa

2:07 pm on 24 December 2010

China has defended its economic and trade relations with African nations

In the first policy paper on the subject, Beijing says China-Africa co-operation helped Africa to reach the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals and boosted common prosperity and progress.

China is now Africa's largest trading partner. Bilateral trade grew more than 43% to $150 billion in 2010, and Chinese direct investment jumped from less than $700 million in 2003 to more than $12 billion in 2009.

But there has been strong criticism of China's resource grab in Africa and its "no strings" approach, the BBC reports.

While some Africans welcome the Chinese practice of separating politics from economics, others have expressed concern that Beijing's deepening involvement in the continent's development may worsen corruption and aggravate human rights and environmental issues there.

Which model to adopt?

The key question for many African countries is whether they should adopt the Chinese model of growing the economy at the expense of political reform, rather than developing their own model.

China needs more natural resources such as oil, gas, and minerals for its rapidly growing economy, while Africa needs more investment in basic infrastructure to develop its potential.

According to the policy paper released by the state information office, China plans to expand the relationship to "a larger scale, broader scope and higher level".