China-Africa: Beijing sees red after criticism from Jean-Yves Le Drian

Au moment when the 8e ministerial conference of the Forum on Sino-African Cooperation (FCSA), the recent criticisms of the head of the French diplomacy, Jean-Yves Le Drian, do not pass at all. Above all, they come after the African tour of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who also targeted Chinese investments in Africa during his visit to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal.

“Our competitors have no taboos or limits”

In a newspaper interview The world, published on November 19, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs castigated Chinese policy on the African continent, where the former French colonial power is now overtaken by Beijing in terms of investment and import-export. “The novelty in Africa is that there is starting to be a very clear disappointment with the Chinese. African officials have realized that this is a fool’s bargain, ”said the French minister. “Of course, they were able to benefit immediately from infrastructures, sometimes spectacular, built by the Chinese with the money of the Africans with the declared aim of the development, but, in the end, they put their country under trusteeship because of the major debt they are forced to contract to finance these infrastructures. “

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“France should do more things for Africa”

Asked about these comments, Beijing expressed its surprise on Thursday. “China expresses its amazement at the words of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, which do not correspond to reality,” said Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for Chinese diplomacy, during a press briefing.

France “should judge Sino-African cooperation objectively and impartially, listen carefully to what Africans are saying and do more positive and concrete things for Africa,” he said.

China has invested heavily in Africa over the past decade, particularly in infrastructure and in the exploitation of its raw materials. “Chinese companies have built and modernized more than 10,000 kilometers of railways and nearly 100,000 kilometers of roads in Africa, creating more than 4.5 million jobs,” said Zhao Lijian. “Africans are best placed to judge this cooperation,” he added, citing a study published in November 2021 by the pan-African institute Afrobarometer, according to which 63% of Africans felt “somewhat” or “very” positive Chinese influence in their country. In twenty years, trade has exploded from $ 10 billion in 2000 to over $ 200 billion in 2019. Beijing has thus become, to its great advantage, Africa’s largest trading partner. And above all, the leading creditor of African countries, whose debt has exploded since the pandemic. It now holds nearly 20% of Africa’s debt.

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