World Bulletin / News Desk
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday offered $20 billion in loans to African countries over the next three years, boosting a relationship that has been criticised by the West and given Beijing growing access to the resource-rich continent.
The loans offered were double the amount China pledged for the previous three-year period in 2009 and is the latest in a string of aid and credit provided to Africa's many poverty-stricken nations.
The pledge is likely to boost China's good relations with Africa, a supplier of oil and raw materials like copper and uranium to the world's most populous country and second-largest economy.
But the loans could add to discomfort in the West, which criticises China for overlooking human rights abuses in its business dealings with Africa, especially in Beijing's desire to feed its booming resource-hungry economy.
Hu brushed off such concerns in his speech at the Great Hall of the People, attended by leaders including South African President Jacob Zuma and Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema, a man widely condemned by rights groups as one of the world's most corrupt leaders.
"China wholeheartedly and sincerely supports African countries to choose their own development path, and will wholeheartedly and sincerely support them to raise their development ability," Hu said.
China will "continue to steadfastly stand together with the African people, and will forever be a good friend, a good partner and a good brother", he added at the summit held every three years since 2000.
Hu also pledged to "continue to expand aid to Africa, so that the benefits of development can be realised by the African people". He did not provide an amount.
Hu said the new loans would support infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and development of small and medium-sized businesses in Africa.
"CHEQUE BOOK" APPROACH
Critics say China supports African governments with dubious human rights records as a means to get access to resources.
The EU has rejected what they call China's "cheque book" approach to doing business with Africa, saying it would continue to demand good governance and the transparent use of funds from its trading partners.
"Africa's past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other countries," Zuma told the forum.
"We are particularly pleased that in our relationship with China we are equals and that agreements entered into are for mutual gain," Zuma added.
"We certainly are convinced that China's intention is different to that of Europe, which to date continues to intend to influence African countries for their sole benefit."
China's friendship with Africa dates back to the 1950s, when Beijing backed liberation movements in the continent fighting to throw off Western colonial rule.
GROWING TRADE LINKS
Chinese state-owned firms in Africa also face criticism for using imported labour to build government-financed projects like roads and hospitals, while pumping out raw resources and processing them in China, leaving little for local economies.
"Certainly quite a number of us are thinking we need to move into more value addition," South African's Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies told Reuters.
"We need to export mineral products in a more processed form ... We need to bite this bullet very seriously."
Trade has jumped in the past decade, driven by Chinese hunger for resources to power its economic boom and African demand for cheap Chinese products.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China 601398.SS, for example, the world's most valuable lender, has invested more than $7 billion in various projects across the continent.
Vessels were delivered to port of Alexandria on June 17
The economic cost of violence according to the 2015 Global Peace Index has reached a staggering $14.3 trillion with Syria the least peaceful country.
The leading opposition lawmaker has said that Turkish President Erdogan is open to all possiblities for a coalition.
Qatar has filed a lawsuit against the leader of the National Front in France for his comments regarding "terror" activities.
Saudi Arabia will put in place an electronic bracelet system for all pilgrims visiting the country to perform their Hajj duties.
After U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated that the central bank was poised to raise interest rates, European stock markets fall.
Italian company Enel will invest 18 billion euro for renewable energy sources in Africa.
Azerbaijani president said in a statement that Southern Gas Corridor project will supply neighboring and European countries for a 100 years
Oil prices rose above $60 due to Iran's call for oil production cut
Economic growth in the Euro-Zone is not at desired levels.
Director and Global Head of Islamic Finance at Standard & Poor's says that growing market for sukuk and new players mark 'significant interest' in Islamic finance.
The Ministry of Finance said that Denmark has written to China to "announce its intention to apply to be a founding member" of the AIIB.
Experts state that the crisis poses risks to the region, which is significant for oil production and exports in the world.
Federal Reserve removes word 'patient;' interest rate increase expected within months. Yellen says timing of rate rise 'not decided,' but will come anytime after April; holds current rates at 0 to 0.25 pct.
Many emerging-market currencies have fallen against the dollar in recent weeks
Anticipated Federal Reserve interest rate hikes making dollar strong against most emerging market currencies, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan says.