Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the Middle East and Africa between July 19 and July 27 to sell that region Beijing’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project, a global infrastructure plan to give China control of the world’s great ports, roads, and railways.
According to the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, Xi will be in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Senegal, Rwanda, and South Africa from July 19 to 24 and will attend the tenth annual BRICS summit in Johannesburg from July 25 to 27. BRICS is an alternative coalition featuring the leadership of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
“The upcoming visit covers a wide area of the African continent, showing that China treasures its traditional friendship with Africa,” Xi reportedly said.
The People’s Daily noted that Xi will also pay a “friendly visit” to Mauritius before he heads home to China.
Chinese officials have visited Africa several times during the past few months. Xi’s political adviser, Wang Yang, reportedly visited the Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Kenya in June and the president’s top legislator, Li Zhanshu, visited Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Namibia in May.
The Chinese government announced the upcoming meetings in the Middle East and Africa on the Ministry’s website:
Upon the invitations of Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, Macky Sall, president of Senegal, Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda, and Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa, President Xi will be traveling to the four countries, from [July] 19 to 24 on a state visit.
Although China has been investing in Africa for decades, as far back as the 1960s, it was three years ago that China and Africa took their business relationship to a new level with the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership during the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
China is now Africa’s largest trading partner and, as of 2015, reportedly owns $94 billion of sub-Saharan Africa’s debt.
Voice of America noted that China has been investing in large-scale infrastructure projects throughout Africa, such as the Nairobi-Mombasa line, and has also constructed at least six railways on the continent in recent years, in addition to “other infrastructure projects, including bridges, dams, roads and power plants. ” However, these projects reportedly “often lack proper vetting, and deals unfold with little transparency.”
This is an issue that reportedly has experts worried that these overpriced ventures could fall to the wayside because they are too expensive and “do little to drive economic growth or benefit local communities.”
Almost immediately following his rise to rule the country, Xi made the colonization of African countries a priority during his first overseas trip as the nation’s top elected official.
The People’s Daily reported that Li Wentao, deputy director of the Institute of African Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said this year he has seen frequent high-level visits between China and the African continent, which he described as being “just like visiting relatives.”