Following a swing through the United Arab Emirates, where he signed more than a dozen deals to strengthen cooperation, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Africa tour is already making headlines.
On Sunday, Xi began his two-day visit to the West African nation of Senegal with a milestone for his flagship Belt and Road Initiative. The ambitious web of infrastructure and economic development investments, which aims to deepen connectivity between East, Southeast and Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, now for the first time officially stretches to the Atlantic Ocean on the continent of Africa.
“Noting that the two countries should strengthen the alignment of development strategies and policy communication, Xi welcomed Senegal to be the first West African country to sign a Belt and Road cooperation document with China,” Chinese state media reported.
Chinese loans have already financed a highway linking the Senegalese capital of Dakar with its second-largest city, Touba, and an industrial park.
Xi has already arrived in his second stop, Rwanda, after which he will head to South Africa, where he will attend a summit of BRICS countries.
— Robert Nagila (@Rnagila) July 21, 2018
Why the Senegal trip is important:
China’s official Xinhua News Agency:
- “Senegal is the first West African country to sign a Belt and Road cooperation document with China.”
- “This year is key for China-Africa ties. In September, a summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will be held in Beijing.”
- “The Chinese aid of building sports and cultural infrastructure in Senegal, in particular, the Grand National Theater of Dakar and the Museum of Black Civilization, shows that the China-Africa cooperation is not profit-seeking: Senegalese scholar Kader Diop.”
- “China now does more trade with Africa than any other nation does, and its consistent overtures to the continent contrast sharply with the United States, whose President Donald Trump has shown little interest in it.”
(Remember Trump’s “shithole countries” controversy? It didn’t help US interests in Africa.)
- “The visit was Xi’s first trip to West Africa as president, but his fourth to Africa, he told a joint press conference with Senegalese President Macky Sall after their third-ever meeting.”
Per Bloomberg Intelligence:
- “Our third grouping [of African destinations of Chinese investment], perhaps best understood as an extended Belt and Road Initiative, includes landlocked East African countries such as Rwanda and Uganda and coastal West African countries like the Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Morocco. These were the largest recipients of bilateral lending by China in 2015, according to CARI data.”
- “The China Bridge and Road Corporation and telecom giants Huawei and ZTE, have become serious contenders for large overseas contracts, thanks in part to China’s focus on Africa, playing an important role in the decline of traditional mobile equipment heavyweights, such as Nokia and Ericsson.”