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President Xi, African Leaders Meet in Beijing as China’s Continental Influence Expands

On September 4, 2018, the 3rd Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) concluded in Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping was joined by top African leaders and international dignitaries for the two day forum themed with the slogan “China and Africa: Toward an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-Win Cooperation.”

President Xi, co-chairing a roundtable meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on day two of the summit, announced the adoption of two major outcome documents: The Beijing Declaration and the FOCAC Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021). Xi described these measures as “setting the direction for the development of China-Africa relations” and developing FOCAC into a “banner that guides international cooperation with Africa under the principle of consultation, cooperation, and benefit for all” (Xinhua, 2018). This comes days after President Xi announced $60 billion in loans, aid, and investment for Africa, debt-relief for certain poor African nations, and a renewed support for environmental and security issues in the region (Reuters, 2018).

Xi’s pledge is said to include “$15 billion of aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans, a credit line of $20 billion, a $10 billion special fund for China-Africa development, and a $5 billion special fund for imports from Africa” with Chinese companies being encouraged to invest the remaining $10 billion (Reuters, 2018). China previously pledged $60 billion dollars to Africa at FOCAC 2015 and $20 billion at FOCAC 2012. Chinese economic activity in the region, according to analysis from the Brookings Institute, appears to be evolving away from the traditional “resources for infrastructure model” and towards the utilization of “Chinese development finance institutions, such as China Development Bank and China-Africa Development Fund, to support Chinese companies’ equity investment in Africa.”

The 2018 FOCAC Conference highlights the marked Chinese push towards dominance in global trade, investment, and economic cooperation. Global economic uncertainty, coupled with a China-United States trade war, demonstrates China’s desire to develop new economic partnerships and growth opportunities. It is possible that China will more aggressively pursue alternative investment opportunities in the face of a strained relationship with America.

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