China’s Xi Gives Hong Kong Leader ‘Unwavering Support’

China’s President Xi Jinping speaks during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on January 2, 2019.  AFP


Chinese President Xi Jinping told beleaguered Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Monday that she had Beijing’s “unwavering support” after another huge pro-democracy rally earlier this month and her government’s thrashing at recent local elections.

The city has been upended by six months of massive pro-democracy protests that have seen violent battles between police and hardcore demonstrators, as well as regular transport disruption.

Protesters have called for the unpopular Lam to stand down as leader but she received the backing of China’s leadership during an annual visit to Beijing on Monday.

“The central government fully recognises the courage and sense of responsibility you have demonstrated in such an exceptional period in Hong Kong,” Xi told Lam at the imposing Great Hall of the People.

“We will continue to provide unwavering support for you to lead the SAR (special administrative region) administration to govern according to the law,” Xi said.

Lam thanked Xi for his concern for the city’s situation, “for his guidance for us, and for the trust and support for the SAR government and me to handle such a big crisis.”

Lam met earlier with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who said her government had “tried its best to maintain social stability” amid “an unprecedentedly severe and complicated situation.”

But he also called for the Hong Kong government to “step up studies of the deep-seated conflicts and problems that hinder Hong Kong’s economic and social development” in order to restore calm to the city.

“Hong Kong is yet to get out of its plight. The SAR government must continue its hard work, stop violence and subdue chaos according to laws and restore order,” Li told Lam.

At the meeting with Li, she said she was grateful for the premier’s “care for Hong Kong”.

The semi-autonomous city is ruled under the “one country, two systems” principle, which gives the territory rights unseen on mainland China — rights protestors say are steadily being eroded.

The past month had seen a lull in the violence and vandalism in the city, after pro-democracy parties won a landslide in local council elections.

A week ago, around 800,000 people marched peacefully through the city’s streets, urging the government to respond to their five demands — which include an independent inquiry into the police, an amnesty for those arrested, and fully free elections.

But public anger remains as Beijing and Lam show no sign of giving further concessions despite the election success.

This weekend the relative calm was broken by clashes between black-clad pro-democracy protesters and Hong Kong police in some of the city’s shopping malls.

And earlier this week an international panel of experts hired to advise Hong Kong on the police response to protests announced they were quitting, saying the watchdog was not fit for purpose “in a society that values freedoms and rights”.


Russia, China Launch ‘Historic’ Gas Pipeline

China’s President Xi Jinping (R) speaks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin via a video link, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 2, 2019. Noel CELIS / POOL / AFP



Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday launched the first gas pipeline linking the two countries.

The mammoth Power of Siberia pipeline connecting the world’s top gas exporter and its largest energy importer crowns years of tough negotiations and work in difficult conditions.

“Today is remarkable, a truly historic event not only for the global energy market, but first of all for us and for you, for Russia and China,” Putin said during a televised ceremony featuring the two leaders.

Xi said the project “serves as a model of… mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries.”

“The development of Sino-Russian ties is and will be a foreign policy priority for both our nations,” Xi said on Russian television in translated remarks.

Alexei Miller, head of Russian gas giant Gazprom which championed the project, said nearly 10,000 people had worked to build the enormous pipeline.

During the ceremony Miller was shown ordering workers to open a valve allowing gas to pass across the border into China.

“Gas is going to the pipeline system of the Chinese People’s Republic,” he said.

The 3,000-kilometre (1,850-mile) pipeline runs from remote regions of eastern Siberia to Blagoveshchensk on the border, then into China.

Russia and China signed a 30-year, $400 billion deal to build and operate the pipeline in 2014, after a decade of difficult talks. It was Gazprom’s biggest contract.

The company is to supply China with 38 billion cubic metres (1.3 trillion cubic feet) of gas annually when the pipeline is fully operational in 2025.

Gazprom has stressed that the pipeline ran through “swampy, mountainous, seismically active, permafrost and rocky areas with extreme environmental conditions”.

Russia is also planning to soon launch two more gas pipelines that will ramp up supplies to Europe while bypassing Ukraine.

TurkStream, which Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan hope to launch in January, is to transport Russian gas to Turkey.

Nord Stream-2, which would double Russian gas volumes to Germany, is expected to go online in mid-2020.

More to follow…

Trump To Announce New Location For US-China Trade Deal

US President Donald Trump                                       China’s leader Xi Jinping in Beijing/AFP


President Donald Trump said Thursday that an alternative location for his signing of a US-China trade deal with President Xi Jinping will be “announced soon,” following cancellation of an APEC summit in Chile.

The partial trade deal, known as phase one, had been due for signing on the sidelines of the regional APEC summit which Chile cancelled on Wednesday due to violent unrest in the capital Santiago.

“China and the USA are working on selecting a new site for signing,” Trump tweeted. “The new location will be announced soon. President Xi and President Trump will do signing!”

Beijing also remains positive about the phase one deal, which would signal a big deescalation in the two economic giants’ so far 18-month trade war.

“Negotiating teams on the Chinese and US sides have continued to maintain close communication, and negotiations are currently making smooth progress,” the Chinese commerce ministry said in a statement Thursday.

“The two sides will continue to push forward negotiations and other work according to the original plan,” the ministry said, adding that leaders from both sides will hold another call Friday, a week after senior officials last spoke over the phone.

Hong Kong Crisis: Trump Asks Chinese President To Meet Protesters

Police scuffle with pro-democracy protestors at Hong Kong’s International Airport on August 13, 2019.  Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP


US President Donald Trump said Thursday that a meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists could lead to a “happy” ending to months of protests.

“If President Xi would meet directly and personally with the protesters, there would be a happy and enlightened ending to the Hong Kong problem. I have no doubt!” Trump tweeted.

Trump appeared to be clarifying a tweet he wrote on Wednesday on Xi, trade relations, and Hong Kong, which he ended by saying “Personal meeting?” That was taken by some as Trump offering to meet with the Chinese president.

Trump has been reticent to criticize China’s stance on Hong Kong, indicating he regards the unrest as an internal matter for Beijing, while he focuses on negotiations to resolve a grinding trade war between the United States and China.

“Of course China wants to make a deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

But State Department officials and top US lawmakers spoke out in defense of the protesters and warned Beijing to respect the territory’s autonomy.

The call for Xi to meet with activists came as thousands of Chinese military personnel were seen assembling in a sports stadium in Shenzhen, just across the border with Hong Kong.

China’s ambassador to London warned on Thursday that Beijing will not “sit by and watch” and is ready to “quell the unrest swiftly” if the crisis in Hong Kong becomes “uncontrollable.”


Trump Says Xi Can ‘Quickly, Humanely Solve’ Hong Kong Standoff

(FILES)(COMBO) This combination of file pictures shows US President Donald Trump and China’s leader Xi Jinping. Ed Jones, Paul J. RICHARDS / AFP


US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said Xi Jinping can “humanely” resolve the violent standoff with protesters in Hong Kong and appeared to suggest meeting the Chinese leader.

“I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it,” Trump tweeted from vacation at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

“Personal meeting?” he added in what appeared to be an idea for offering his own help to Xi directly.

Protesters have staged 10 weeks of relentless protests to demand greater freedoms in Hong Kong, including rallies that paralyzed the semi-autonomous city’s airport, one of the world’s busiest travel hubs.

The United States has said it is “deeply concerned” over Chinese security force movements on the border with Hong Kong and urged Beijing to honor the territory’s autonomy.

Under a 1997 deal that saw Hong Kong return to China from British colonial rule, the city is meant to have far greater liberties than those allowed on the mainland.


Trade War: China, US Will ‘Lose By Fighting’, Xi Tells Trump

China’s President, Xi Jinping US President Donald Trump



Chinese President Xi Jinping called for cooperation in a phone call with Donald Trump on Tuesday, confirming he would meet the US leader at the G20 summit amid a bruising trade war.

“China and the US will both gain by cooperating, and lose by fighting,” Xi told Trump, according to a readout by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

READ ALSO: Trump Says US To Begin Removing Millions Of Illegal Migrants


Chinese President Xi Demands ‘Fair And Friendly’ Treatment Of Citizens Abroad

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during a ceremony at Tsinghua University ceremony with Russian President Vladimir Putin (not in picture) at Friendship Palace in Beijing on April 26, 2019. Kenzaburo FUKUHARA / POOL / AFP


China’s President Xi Jinping on Friday called for a “fair and friendly” environment for Chinese companies and citizens overseas, as pushback against its tech giants rises and academics find their visas cancelled.

Beijing and Washington have been locked in a bruising trade war — which negotiators have been working to resolve — but there has also been a growing strategic rivalry between the world’s two largest economies.

“China’s measures to expand opening up are independent choices,” Xi told a gathering of 37 world leaders at a summit for his signature Belt and Road Initiative.

READ ALSO: Sri Lanka’s Police Chief Resigns Over Deadly Attacks

“We also hope that all countries in the world will create a good investment environment, treat Chinese enterprises, international students and scholars equally, and provide a fair and friendly environment,” he said.

An increasing number of Western countries have moved to block Huawei and its state-backed competitor ZTE from building next-generation 5G networks over fears Beijing could spy on communications and gain access to critical infrastructure.

The United States has also started to bar some Chinese academics from the country if they are suspected of having links to Chinese intelligence agencies, the New York Times reported.

It added that thirty Chinese scholars have had their visas cancelled or put under review in the past year.

In accounts published in the state-run Global Times, several Chinese academics said their 10-year visas to the US were cancelled, with officials citing concerns over their links to Chinese intelligence.

“Some Chinese were deliberately targeted when visiting the US and had their baggage searched, but cases of cancelling visas are not common,” wrote Jin Canrong, dean of international studies at the elite Renmin University.

Such instances were rare even during the Cold War, he added.

Beijing has apparently hit back in retaliation: China expert Michael Pillsbury, who advises US President Donald Trump on China, said his visa to enter the country for a forum earlier this year was blocked.

Tensions flared between Washington and Beijing last December over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is wanted in the US for violating Iranian sanctions.

She was arrested in Canada on request of the US and is now fighting extradition.


China Renews Vows To Reunite With Taiwan

China’s President Xi Jinping speaks during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on January 2, 2019. 
Mark Schiefelbein / POOL / AFP


Taiwan’s unification with the mainland is “inevitable”, President Xi Jinping said Wednesday, warning against any efforts to promote the island’s independence and saying China would not renounce the option of using military force to bring it into the fold.

China still sees democratic Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949.


“China must and will be united… which is an inevitable requirement for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people in the new era,” Xi said in a speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of a message sent to Taiwan in 1979, in which Beijing called for unification and an end to military confrontation.

“We make no promise to give up the use of military force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means” against Taiwanese separatist activities and “outside forces” that interfere with reunification, he said.

In his speech, Xi described unification under a “one country, two systems” approach that would “safeguard the interests and well-being of Taiwanese compatriots”.

Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state, with its own currency, political and judicial systems, but has never declared formal independence from the mainland.

Relations have been strained for the past two years since the election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who has refused to acknowledge Beijing’s stance that the island is part of “one China”.

On Tuesday, Tsai warned Beijing that Taiwan’s people would never give up the kind of freedoms unseen on the authoritarian mainland.

Beijing “must respect the insistence of 23 million people for freedom and democracy” and “must use peaceful and equal terms to handle our differences”, she said.

‘Rather empty’

Though Xi’s speech takes a strong stance against Taiwanese separatists and pushes for reunification, it is aimed mostly at domestic audiences, analysts say.

“It’s rather empty and doesn’t have any new points except that cross-strait unification would not affect the interests of other countries,” said Fan Shih-ping, a political analyst at National Taiwan Normal University, adding that Xi’s words may also be intended for the US.

In 2018, the US sent multiple ships through the Taiwan Strait –- which China considers its territory but the US and others see as international waters open to all — infuriating Beijing.

Washington also remains Taipei’s most powerful unofficial ally and its main arms supplier despite switching diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.

Xi’s speech is likely to be “very poorly received,” by the US, said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, who studies Chinese foreign policy.

‘One country, two systems’

To accommodate differences in Taiwan’s political system and civil society, China has proposed adopting the “one country, two systems” policy, which was implemented in Hong Kong after the British handed the city back to China in 1997.

But some say the erosion of civil liberties in Hong Kong sets a negative precedent for Taiwan.

“They (China) are gobbling up Hong Kong, not just politically but culturally and economically too”, Claudia Mo, a pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker, told AFP.

“It’s so obvious that they’re trying to assimilate Hong Kong into wider mainland China in every way. How would any Taiwanese think that’s going to work for them?”

Last October, tens of thousands of Taiwan independence campaigners took to the streets in the first large-scale protest calling for an outright independence vote since the island first became a democracy more than 20 years ago.

But some in Taiwan say worsening relations with Beijing have harmed business, as cuts to pensions and a reduction in public holidays compound frustrations over a stagnant economy where salaries have not kept up with the rise in cost of living.

Last year, Taiwan’s ruling party suffered a massive defeat in mid-term polls, causing Tsai to resign as leader of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, while the main opposition Kuomintang, which oversaw an unprecedented thaw with Beijing before Tsai took office in 2016, made gains.

Beijing has adopted a multi-pronged approach to diminish Taiwan’s presence on the international stage in recent years, including blocking it from global forums and poaching its dwindling number of official diplomatic allies.



US-China Ties Sour As Xi, Trump Friendship Fades

File photo of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump


For more than a year, Chinese leader Xi Jinping could count on one thing even as his government clashed with the United States over trade and other tiffs: US President Donald Trump calling him “friend”.

But after a turbulent week of sanctions, tariffs canceled meetings and accusations of election meddling, Trump suggested the honeymoon was over as US-China relations sink to their lowest point in years.

“If (Trump) thinks that he and Xi are no longer friends, then there could be a whole different level of deterioration in the US-China relationship far beyond trade,” Bill Bishop, publisher of the Sinocism China Newsletter, told AFP.

Trump has called Xi a “good friend” since their first meeting at his Florida resort in April 2017. Xi gave Trump a lavish welcome in Beijing in November but has never been as verbally effusive about their relationship.

After accusing China of trying to interfere in the upcoming US midterm election, Trump said Wednesday that Xi “may not be a friend of mine anymore”, though “he probably respects me”.

“Trump and Xi were never friends,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“Trump has deliberately insulated his relationship with Xi from the friction in the bilateral relationship in the belief that he could use it to cut deals if there are opportunities to do so,” Glaser said.

There is at least one issue where Trump’s rapport with Xi may have had an impact.

Chen Daoyin, a Shanghai-based political expert, said Trump’s decision to rescue Chinese telecoms giant ZTE from collapse following US sanctions “can be considered as the fruit of their personal friendship”.

But their relationship is “only superficial” because they “have different values”.

Chen noted that Xi did not attend UN meetings this week while Trump is skipping an Asia-Pacific summit in November.

“We can see that they are avoiding each other,” Chen said.

Asked whether Xi is no longer friends with Trump, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said maintaining “sound and healthy” US-China relations are in the “long-term interest” of both countries.

 ‘Unwarranted accusation’

Tensions between the world’s two largest economies have flared up on a nearly daily basis during the last week.

The US sanctioned a Chinese military organization last week for buying Russian weapons, prompting Beijing to cut short a Chinese admiral’s US visit and summon the US ambassador.

On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced “awful abuses” committed against mostly Muslim ethnic Uighurs held in internment camps in China’s northwest Xinjiang region.

After US tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods were launched on Monday, Beijing said trade talks were impossible while Washington holds a “knife to someone’s throat”.

Also this week, US B-52 bombers flew over the disputed South China Sea and the East China Sea and Beijing slammed the US plans to sell military parts to self-governing Taiwan.

At the UN, Trump accused China on Wednesday of using a variety of tactics to damage his chances at the vital midterm polls in November.

One example he provided was an insert sponsored by the state-run China Daily in The Des Moines Register — a newspaper in Iowa, a key state in US elections.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi rejected the “unwarranted accusations”.

But it was not the only time Chinese media have reached out to the American public.

In August, English-language state broadcaster CGTN ran an animation with a not-so-subtle message to California voters, noting that Chinese tariffs have hit almond farmers in areas represented by Republicans.

Glaser said China has aimed tariffs to influence Trump supporters and media to win sympathy from American voters, but Chinese tactics are “overt attempts at exerting influence rather than covert interference”.

Bishop said the trade war has prompted China to look for quick ways to reduce its dependency on a range of US goods and services.

Xi appears to have seized on his government’s limited options, with China Daily running a story on Thursday about his visit to a farm where he stressed the importance of “self-reliance” in food security and manufacturing in the face of trade protectionism.

“The Chinese would still prefer some sort of deal that is basically a delaying action so that it mitigates some of the current intensifying tensions,” Bishop said.

But, he added, “whatever compromises or whatever short-term deals are reached, they’re going to be a band-aid on a much bigger problem that is only going to get worse over time”.


China Warns US To Withdraw Sanctions On Military

FILE Photo of China’s President Xi Jinping

China called on the United States on Friday to withdraw sanctions it imposed on a Chinese military organization for buying Russian weapons or “bear the consequences”.“The Chinese side expresses strong indignation over the above-mentioned unreasonable practices of the US side,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing.

Geng said China had lodged an official protest with the United States.

“The US actions have seriously violated the basic principles of international relations and seriously damaged the relations between the two countries and the two militaries,” Geng said.

“We strongly urge the US to immediately correct their mistake and withdraw their so-called sanctions, otherwise the US will have to bear the consequences.”

The US State Department said Thursday it was placing financial sanctions on the Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Ministry of Defence, and its top administrator, for the recent purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

Officials said it was the first time a third country has been punished under the CAATSA sanctions legislation for dealing with Russia, and signalled the Trump administration’s will to risk relations with other countries in its campaign against Moscow.

The move comes as the United States and China are in the heat of a trade war.

The two countries will launch new tariffs on Monday, with Washington targeting $200 billion in Chinese exports and Beijing hitting $60 billion worth of American products.

The two sides have already imposed tariffs on $50 billion in goods from each country.


I Am Fully Committed To Mambilla Power Project, Buhari Tells Xi

I Am Fully Committed To Mambilla Power Project, Buhari Tells Xi


President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration remains committed to the realisation of the Mambilla Hydropower Plant project in Taraba State.

The President said this on Wednesday in Beijing during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, where he sought China’s support to build the 3,050 Megawatts hydropower project.

“I told President Xi that the Mambilla Hydropower Plant is Nigeria’s equivalent of China’s Three Gorges Dam, and that I look forward to him joining me for the groundbreaking ceremony in the not-too-distant future,” he was quoted on his Twitter handle.

President Buhari added, “I am fully committed to the realisation of this landmark project. The Mambilla Hydropower Project remains a key priority for our administration.

“Today in Beijing I asked for President Xi‘s support and intervention, for the project. Our hope is to fund it with concessionary loans from China.”


The President told Mr Xi that Nigeria’s submission on the project was being assessed by Chinese agencies and sought his intervention to fast-track the process.

The meeting comes one year after the Nigerian Government approved the construction of Mambilla Hydro-Electric Power plant in the sum of $5.792 billion.

The nod was given at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) held on August 30, 2017, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, had told State House correspondents that the construction of four dams required would take 72 months.

According to him, Nigeria is expected to provide 15 per cent counterpart funding in the joint venture agreement with China.

Meanwhile, President Buhari and Mr Xi met three days after they witnessed the signing of an agreement worth $328m between Nigeria and China for the Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II (NICTIB II) project.

The concessional loan agreement between Galaxy Backbone Limited and Huawei Technologies Limited (HUAWEI) was signed by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adesoun, and the Director-General of International Development Agency, Wang Xiaotoa.

Nigeria and China also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the One Belt One Road initiative (OBOR).

The OBOR is an initiative of the Chinese president which focuses on improving the cooperation among multiple countries spread across the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.

China Pledges $60bn For African Development

China’s President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening ceremony of the of high-level dialogue between Chinese and African leaders and business and industry representatives ahead of the 6th Forum of China-Africa Cooperation at the Beijing National Convention Centre in Beijing on September 3, 2018. Lintao Zhang / POOL / AFP


Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged Monday to provide $60 billion in financing for Africa’s development over the next three years at a summit with leaders from the continent.

The financing will include $15 billion in “free assistance and interest-free loans”, he said, in remarks meant to ease growing concerns that China’s assistance to developing nations is miring them in debt.

Xi offered the funding at the start of a two-day China-Africa summit that focused on his cherished Belt and Road initiative. The money — to be spent over the next three years — comes on top of $60 billion Beijing offered in 2015.

The massive scheme is aimed at improving Chinese access to foreign markets and resources, and boosting Beijing’s influence abroad.

It has already seen China loan billions of dollars to countries in Asia and Africa for roads, railways, ports and other major infrastructure projects.

But critics warn that the Chinese leader’s pet project is burying some countries under massive debt.

“China’s investment in Africa comes with no political strings attached,” Xi told a high-level dialogue with African leaders and business representatives ahead of the summit.

“China’s cooperation with Africa is clearly targeted at the major bottlenecks to development. Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects, but in places where they count the most.”

But Xi admitted there was a need to look at the commercial viability of projects and make sure preparations are made to lower investment risks and make cooperation “more sustainable”.

Belt and Road, Xi said, “is not a scheme to form an exclusive club or bloc against others. Rather it is about greater openness, sharing and mutual benefit.”

Later, at the start of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Xi announced $60 billion in funds for eight initiatives over the next three years, in areas ranging from industrial promotion, infrastructure construction and scholarships for young Africans.

He added that Africa’s least developed, heavily indebted and poor countries will be exempt from debt they have incurred in the form of interest-free Chinese loans due to mature by the end of 2018.

A study by the Center for Global Development, a US think-tank, found “serious concerns” about the sustainability of sovereign debt in eight Asian, European and African countries receiving Belt and Road funds.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa defended China’s involvement on the continent, saying FOCAC “refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa as our detractors would have us believe.”

During a visit to China last month, Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed warned against “a new version of colonialism,” as he cancelled a series of Chinese-backed infrastructure projects worth $22 billion.

Ahead of FOCAC, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, currently the chair of the African Union, also dismissed the concerns, telling the official Xinhua news agency talk of “debt traps” were attempts to discourage African-Chinese interactions.

– ‘Fractured world’ –

At the last three-yearly gathering in Johannesburg in 2015, Xi announced $60 billion of assistance and loans for Africa.

Nations across Africa are hoping that China’s enthusiasm for infrastructure investment will help promote industrialisation on the continent.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will oversee the signing of a telecommunication infrastructure deal backed by a $328-million loan facility from China’s Exim bank during his visit, his office said.

Xi said Belt and Road complies with international norms, and China “welcomes the participation of other capable and willing countries for mutually beneficial third-party cooperation”.

China has provided aid to Africa since the Cold War, but Beijing’s presence in the region has grown exponentially with its emergence as a global trading power.

Chinese state-owned companies have aggressively pursued large investments in Africa, whose vast resources have helped fuel China’s transformation into an economic powerhouse.

– Debt fears –

While relations between China and African nations are broadly positive, concerns have intensified about the impact of some of China’s deals in the region.

Djibouti has become heavily dependent on Chinese financing after China opened its first overseas military base in the Horn of Africa country last year, a powerful signal of the continent’s strategic importance to Beijing.

Locals in other countries have complained about the practice of using Chinese labour for building projects and what are perceived as sweetheart deals for Chinese companies.

The concerns are likely to grow as countries in other parts of the world — especially Southeast Asia — begin to question whether Chinese aid comes at too high a price.

“Time has come for African leaders to critically interrogate their relationship with China,” an editorial in Kenya’s Daily Nation said Monday.

African leaders, “should use the summit to ask tough questions. What are the benefits in this relationship? Is China unfairly exploiting Africa like the others before it?”