As the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) enters into its second day, the noise that China is out to grab Africa is still polluting the airwaves, though, thankfully, the drama surrounding President Trump and his trade wars and former associates have managed to drown it out.
The chorus being repeated is that China is dishing our “toxic loans” that will, in the end, strangle “Africa”. For one, Africa is not a country but is made up of different countries with unique needs and priorities. It is time they stopped using that condescending and insulting tone; it is as if Africans cannot think for themselves or are foolish enough to mortgage their countries.
Many of African countries’ traditional money-bags are going through a worse storm than the African leaders in Beijing; the sympathetic worries should be shifted there.
Dark economic clouds are gathering over the western skies due to the Brexit menace on one side of the Atlantic, and on the other, the North Atlantic Free Trade Area (NAFTA) is on the brink of breathing its last.
Britain might end up getting the shorter end of the bargain that could lead to Scotland making another attempt to break away, and many world currencies are getting a serious battering. That is where the real worries lie.
But in order to understand why many African countries are turning more frequently towards the East, one needs to understand China’s “Five-No” approach as explained by President Xi Jinping in very simple words:
“1: No interference in African countries' pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions;
2: No interference in African countries' internal affairs;
3: No imposition of China's will on African countries;
4: No attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa;
5: No seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation with Africa.”
Any reasonable relationship should be based on mutual interests, not dictates and Big Brother oversight. Is that really too much to ask?