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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

China pledged to invest $60 billion in Africa. Here’s what that means.

The year 2015 was quite eventful for China-Africa diplomacy. Several high-level officials from both sides visited in each direction; the African Union (AU) and China signed a memorandum of understanding; China concluded an agreement to build a base in Djibouti; and China signed a host of bilateral agreements with African countries. The capstone of the year’s diplomatic efforts was Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), hosted in Johannesburg on Dec. 4-5 and gathering delegations from 50 African countries, the African Union, and of course China. What did we learn about China-Africa relations from this meeting? FOCAC’s launch was a collaboration among China and several African delegations to convene a triennial meeting that would chart out cooperation projects and discuss China-Africa relations multilaterally. At most of these meetings, ministers are the ones discussing policies and plans. When the Forum is called a summit, as this one was, presidents and heads of states are invited. While this seems like boring bureaucratic terminology, it’s actually significant. Of the previous six FOCAC meetings, the only ones called a summit were in Beijing in 2006 and in Johannesburg. Indeed, this was the first summit-level to be held on the African continent. Its success definitely earned South Africa bonus points, both among its African peers and also globally, as it showed that it can attract many heads of states and skillfully coordinate a summit.

Source: Washington Post