China Africa relations

Chinese President Hu Jintao visits new African Union headquarters financed and built by China

Chinese President Hu Jintao

The new African Union headquarters was inaugurated by China’s President after being built and financed by China.

Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to visit Addis Ababa this month to inaugurate a new African Union headquarters financed by China and built largely with Chinese labor.  The project was launched when Moammar Gadhafi was maneuvering to move Africa’s diplomatic capital to Libya.Official African Union and Ethiopian sources confirm that President Hu will be in Addis Ababa January 28 to open what is being called “China’s gift to Africa.”  The inauguration ceremony will be held the day before African heads of state hold their January meeting at AU headquarters for the first time. According to custom, African heads of state meet every January in Addis Ababa. But the summit previously has been held at the city’s United Nations conference center because the AU headquarters building was too small. Construction of new facility began in June 2009, when Addis Ababa’s position as Africa’s diplomatic capital was in doubt.  The city has been home to the continental body since its founding, largely due to the influence of the late Emperor Haile Selassie, who was one of the driving forces behind creation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963.But in 2009, the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was the AU chairman, and he made no secret of his desire to build a grand new headquarters in his hometown of Sirte.  That plan was thwarted, however, when China agreed to pay for a $200 million facility in Addis Ababa. It was built by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation, largely with Chinese labor. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi toured the new facility last week and hailed the close cooperation with China.  He revealed that he had lobbied Chinese officials to build the new headquarters, donated land adjacent to the old AU campus, and exempted taxes on all imported construction materials. His remarks were reported by Chinese and Ethiopian state media, which were invited to cover the event. AU Projects Director Fantahun Hailemikael says the new facility will vastly improve the African Union’s institutional capacity. “Almost 48 years after foundation of the OAU (Organization of African Unity), the African Union is now able to have such a big facility that can fulfill its requirement in terms of office and in terms of conference,” he said. “The Chinese government generously has given this facility as a gift to Africa and the African Union.”The complex features a 2,500 seat amphitheater and a helicopter landing pad so visiting dignitaries can be flown in from the airport, eliminating the need for motorcades that tie up traffic. The office tower will become home to 700 of the 1,300 African Union staff members.  The other 600 will remain in the old section.The new facility symbolizes China’s growing involvement in Africa, and individually with most of the 54 AU member states.In 2010, China moved ahead of the United States as Africa’s largest trading partner.  The Chinese State Council, or Cabinet, reported trade with African nations reached $114 billion in 2010, as compared to $10 billion in 2000.Industry experts say 70 percent of the continent’s oil exports go to China.

This is a continuation of China’s soft power projection Africa.

Here’s video report about the grand opening:

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China to build $1.2 billion airport in Sudan

China has agreed to build a $1.2 billion airport in Sudan.

A Chinese company has won a 900 million euro contract to build a new international airport in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, underscoring the close links between China and sanctions-hit Sudan.

A subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company will build a runway long enough to handle giant Airbus A380s, a passenger terminal, hanger, control tower and other facilities, China’s state-owned companies administrator said in a statement on its website (www.sasac.gov.cn) on Tuesday.

The new airport will have a runway long enough for the giant Airbus A380

“After this project is completed, it will greatly enhance the degree of internationalisation of Sudan’s capital Khartoum, and also increase the impact China Communications Construction Company will have in Sudan’s market,” the statement said.

The company has a Hong Kong-listed unit, and is involved in infrastructure projects around the world. In January it was given an $810 million contract to build the second phase of a new port in Sri Lanka.

The deal with Sudan comes at a time when airlines are considering cutting back operations because of currency restrictions that prevent them repatriating their profits.

The airlines are constrained because of local laws that prevent selling tickets to Sudanese nationals in foreign currency. Credit card transactions are also not possible due to U.S. sanctions imposed since 1997..

Only about a dozen foreign airlines fly to Sudan because of the U.S. embargo. Sudan also has a poor safety record, with the European Union banning all Sudanese airlines from flying to the bloc.

But Beijing has long been an ally of the government in Khartoum, providing much needed infrastructure development for the country that conceded to a January referendum outcome which will see its oil-rich south split as soon as July 9.

China relied on Sudan as its sixth largest source of oil imports in 2010, and has been keen to build a relationship with leaders in the south.

Zhang Jun, the Chinese Commercial Consul to south Sudan, said oil remained the backbone of the economy in both the north and south, and hoped the agreement between the two sides would not affect oil production, China Business News reported on Tuesday.

China is Sudan’ biggest investor.  Most of its investment is in the oil sector.  Just recently China agreed to help build and modernize Uganda’s infrastructure.  These agreements that China has with regards to infrastructure development are now routine and are expected in its diplomatic relations with African states.

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China In 2010 Invested More Than $1 Billion in Zambia

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (R) talks with visiting Zambian President Rupiah Banda in Beijing, capital of China.

Last year China invested more than $1 billion in Zambia.

Chinese direct investment in Zambia exceeded $1 billion in 2010 and created more than 15,000 jobs, Zambia’s vice president said on Monday.

China has invested billions of dollars into African states such as Zambia, the continent’s biggest copper producer, hoping to secure the resources it needs to fuel its booming economy.

Vice President George Kunda, who met visiting Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liang Yu, said he expected Chinese direct investment to top $1 billion again in 2011.

The recent signing of an agreement with China’s privately owned Zhougui Mining Group would attract more than $5 billion into Zambia’s mining sector over the next few years, Kunda said.

“The project will be one of the largest investments by a private foreign company in the country and will employ over 1,000 Zambians,” he said.

Hui during his visit will witness the signing of economic cooperation agreements and the opening of a regional office for the China-Africa Development Fund.

Another continued reach and expansion of China’s economic rise in the world, especially in Africa.  One thing that Zambia should be carefully aware is that China must have a long term plan on investing in the country, not just till the resources it wants in the country are run out.

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Africa-China trade to exceed $100 billion

Two way trade between China and Africa will exceed $100 billion for the first time.

The bilateral trade volume between China and African countries is expected to exceed US$100 billion by the end of this year, said Zhong Manying, chief of the Department of Western Asian and African Affairs with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC) at a news conference for the African Commodities Exhibition Center held in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province. Since year 2000, China-Africa trade has been enjoying an annual growth rate of 33.5 percent.

In recent years, the bilateral trade has grown quickly thanks to the further enhanced friendship between China and African countries. By the end of year 2009, the trade volume between the two sides has soared to a record high of US$91.066 billion. China has become the third largest trading partner of Africa for the first time. The Yiwu Fair, as a shared platform for global trade of small commodities, is a bridgehead for China’s trade with African countries. Since year 2007, the Yiwu Fair has exported goods to 46 African countries and regions. In 2008, 3 African countries ranked top 10 export destinations of Yiwu’s small commodities. As by the end of 2009, 204 African organizations had set up representative offices and over 1000 African merchants taken up residence at Yiwu permanently. In the context of the new situation, to develop trade relationship with African countries has become a new growth point for Yiwu’s economy.

This isn’t too surprising, rather it is expected given the rapidly expanding, growing Chinese economy.  Across Africa, the Chinese are outdoing themselves in scooping up deals that secure the lion’s share of the continent’s immense mineral treasure house, eclipsing their main competitors, the United States, India and Europe, while leaving Japan trailing far behind.  Expect this trend to continue.

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