China’s President Hu Jintao is now on an eight-nation tour of Africa that will include Sudan and South Africa. It is Mr Hu’s third trip to Africa since he took office in 2003 and comes after the recent high profile China-Africa Summit in Beijing.
To coincide with the trip China has issued an announcement that it will lend African nations US$3 billion in preferential credit over three years and double aid and interest-free loans over the same time. The announcement came with the usual and now always heard reminder that the
offer comes with none of the strictures that Western countries often demand. “The preferential loans provided by China carry no political conditions,” the Chinese announced.
However, few can ignore the fact that Africa supplies one-third of China’s imported oil currently and that this will probably increase n the coming years – US$3 billion is a pretty nice sweetener to keep the oil flowing China’s way rather than anywhere else.
Paul French, Asia Editor