It seems that Wen Jiabao is getting pretty sick of having his government’s motives in Africa questioned, and has decided to employ a traditional Beijing tactic of solving a problem – throwing money at it.
Announcing US$10 billion in low-interest loans to the continent over the next three years, Wen hit back at criticism of recent deals between Chinese firms and unpopular African nations, arguing that the special relationship between China and Africa was a “win-win” situation.
To be fair to Beiijng, many of the attacks it has suffered over its dealings on the African continent has smacked of the pot calling the kettle black, particularly when debts to the US and UK continues to cripple African economies.
On the other hand, no one can failed to have noticed the presence at the Chinese-African summit of Sudan’s Omar al-Beshir, who is currently wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur, and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, who personally praised China over the weekend as an “inspiration”.
While Wen and President Hu Jintao have both made it very clear that they will not make trade with Africa conditional on good governance, their continued support of leaders such as al-Beshir is increasingly difficult to justify. It may be that if China want the international community to stop doubting their long-term commitment to Africa, they should consider choosing their friends more carefully.