A projected slower economic growth in China during the year 2016 will not affect planned projects financed by China in Africa, the country’s foreign minister, Wang Yi said on Tuesday.
A government performance report presented by the country’s premier, Li Keqiang last week shows that China’s economy is expected to grow at a rate of 6.5% to 7% this year, slightly slower than the 6.9% growth recorded in 2015.
The announcement had raised fears that some of China’s large financial commitments made by President Xi Jinping to support Africa would reviewed in light of China’s economic situation.
“China’s relations with Africa date back 60 years. Whatever we have we have promised, we always fulfill,” Yi said at a press conference held on the sidelines of the fourth session of China’s 12th National People’s Congress in China’s capital, Beijing on Tuesday.
Last year, China announced a $60b aid package to Africa.
Yi stressed that China’s relations with Africa had grown beyond just trade partnerships to strategic partnerships.
He allayed fears that China’s focus on Africa was a precursor for a new form of colonisation, as previous global powers did in the 20th century.
“There have been comments about the nature of China-Africa relations but Africans know best. China has never colonised Africa but we have supported infrastructure and brought new life to the continent,” he stated.
Yi said China’s relations with Africa were built on principles of mutual respect, coeration and mutual benefit, rather than domination and subjugation.
At global stage, the minister said China was not bent on altering the global balance of power long helmed by the US and insisted China would never pursue an expansionist policy.
Yi said the construction of military assets, including a planned military base in Djibouti, was meant to protect Chinese businesses across major supply routes and contribute to global peace.
About 30,000 Chinese businesses are operating in several countries globally, generating about $118b annually, Yi said.
He said China’s expanding role in global affairs was based on its principle of peace, as reflected in its position as the second largest contributor to UN peacekeeping budget and biggest contributor of peacekeepers among UN security Council members.
South China Sea
Yi dismissed reports that China was militarilising the South China Sea whose ownership is claimed by several neighbouring countries including Japan, Philippines and Brunei.
“China has never, and will never make any new territorial claims,” he said.
“China was not the first or only country to deploy weapons in the South China Sea. The talk about militarization is a label more suitable to some other interest,” Wang said.
He said building military facilities on the South China was covered by the right of self-preservation and self-defense provided by international law.
Delegates attending the opening session of the CPCC inside the Great Hall of the People
Yi maintained China’s sovereignity over the slands and scoffed at any ruling by the International Court of Arbitration that could be made in favour of Philippines which filed a suit.
He said although China declined to take part in mandatory arbitration over the dispute, the country has taken steps to foster dialogue with neighbours and established a hotline to avoid flare-ups.
Yi said China would not allow North Korea to develop nuclear weapons and promised unwavering support for tougher UN sanctions imposed on the country, which recently conducted missile tests.
Yi, however, said the international community should compliment sanctions with resumption of six-party talks to resolve the impasse. He warned against further pressure on the North which he said could escalate the crisis.
But his appeal appeal for a change in tone came on the same day South Korea announced its own round of sanctions against 40 top officials and shipments from North Korea.
On Sino-US relations, Yi said the relationship was characterised by cooperation and friction while Sino-Japanese relations were fraught with mistrust.
He allayed fears that China’s increased role in international affairs was a part of a grand expansionist moves, insisting that the country was keen to play a role in maintaining a stable international environment.
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