During a visit to South Africa made by China’s Vice Minister of Commerce, Zhang Xiangcheng, this week it was officially announced that China would pledge $50 billion to industrialization projects in developing African economies.
Xi Jinping, President of China, who recently announced that he would forgive the debts of several underdeveloped nations.
The meeting, which took place in Pretoria, was with Lionel October, the South African director-general for the Department of Trade and Industry. The industrialization fund, however, is not to be established for the sole benefit of South Africa. Rather, according to Mr. Xiangcheng’s statement, it is to be used to “promote industrialization and development of the African continent as a whole,”. The South African economy, along with many others in Africa, has suffered economic losses due to the recent slowdown of the Chinese economy, which caused commodity prices to fall.
This industrialization package is not the first assistance that China has provided to struggling African economies in recent weeks. During his visit to the United Nations at the end of September, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that his government would be forgiving billions of dollars in loans owed to China from the least developed and most indebted countries, including several African nations. China further went on to pledge $100 million to assist the African Union in creating an effective standby military force that could be dispatched in case of military or civilian crisis. The creation of the force is part of a general UN program to promote peace and stability in Africa.
China is also not the only nation that seeks to have a hand in the development of African economies. In the last week of September, a meeting occurred between Japanese and South African business and political leaders. In that meeting, it was announced that Japan would provide for the education of 100 South African students by bringing them to Japan for training in various technical and engineering fields. That program would be accompanied by Japanese technical support and advisement for the creation of infrastructure in South Africa, which recent studies suggest is severely outdated.
China’s industrialization support program offers similar technical support. According to the statement made by Mr. Xiangchen during his meeting with Mr. October, 50 Chinese experts in various technical fields would be sent to South Africa to provide support and training during the process of industrial building. Roughly 200,000 industrial managers would also be sent.
By DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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