Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Begins Africa Tour in Ethiopia

Chinese Foreign Minister Begins Africa Tour in Ethiopia (News Central TV)

In order to strengthen connections between China and Africa, the new foreign minister of China, Qin Gang, has started a five-nation tour of the continent in Ethiopia.

Qin, who served as the United States’ ambassador until December, will also travel to Angola, Benin, Egypt, and Gabon. Trade and investment, according to analysts, are anticipated to be primary concerns as China and the United States vie for influence in Africa.

Prior to Qin’s visit to the African Union headquarters on Tuesday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomed Qin to Addis Ababa.

David Monyae, director of the University of Johannesburg’s Center for Africa-China Studies, provided some insight into what Qin and his hosts might talk about.

“At AU level there might be some issues in terms of requests by Africans for China to help on the issues of reform of the United Nations,” he said. “The AU itself is going to get a seat within the G-20 and there are a number of issues within multilateral institutions and China is a permanent member of the Security Council.”

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The infrastructure and telecoms sectors are the main areas of Chinese investment in Africa. The first three months of 2022 saw about $65 billion in trade between China and Africa, up 23% from the same period in 2021, according to the Chinese General Administration of Customs.

Economic revival will be at the top of the agenda in most African countries, according to Cliff Mboya, a researcher at the Afro-Sino Centre of International Relations.

“What I expect [Qin] to address is China-Africa relations post-COVID,” he said. “China is gradually opening up to the rest of the world and they are trying to embrace the post-COVID world which some of us have already embraced. So, economic recovery would be key and we must factor in that there is a lot of renewed interest coming from the U.S. and Europe. So, China would want to put its stake in the relationship and just affirm to African countries that it’s here to stay and just to build on what it has.”

Western countries have charged China with leveraging massive infrastructure loans to enslave African nations to Beijing politically and economically.

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Rights organisations claim that while pursuing access to Africa’s natural resources, China also encourages corruption and disregards human rights issues.

According to Monyae, corruption in large-scale projects on the continent is the fault of Africans.

“My blame goes more on ourselves, Africans,” he said. “I don’t think we have clear laws and are tough on corruption. The idea of blaming Chinese or Americans on anything is not something I buy into. There are issues. No doubt. Is there corruption in some of the Chinese projects? Yes, is there corruption in some of the American projects in Africa? Yes. What are we doing? And there is no one we can say is better than the other.”

African leaders were hosted by the U.S. government in Washington last month, when they both committed to support infrastructure projects on the continent and make investments in digital transformation, health, and telecommunications.

Mboya stated that African countries will examine whether their interactions with Qin and China can provide equivalent or higher benefits for them.

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“The African Union, the leaders who are there, would want to establish personal contact with him just to get an idea of his ideas and his strategy and see how to align themselves with what he will have to say or what China intends to do going forward,” he said.

The secretary general of the Arab League will meet with Egypt’s foreign minister in Cairo. The visit will end on Saturday.

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