China Rolls out Red Carpet for Belt and Road Partner Niger, Offers Anti-Jihad Aid

Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) inspect honour guards during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 28, 2019. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty

Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping rolled out the red carpet in Beijing Tuesday for President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, one of the signatories to Beijing’s multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road project.

Tuesday’s event took place at the square outside the east gate of the Great Hall of the People before their talks in Beijing.

Issoufou’s Beijing visit — at the behest of Xi — will run from May 26 thru 30, marking what appears to be the leader’s first overseas foreign visit as the new president.

On Sunday, the state-owned China Global Television Network (CGTN) reported:

Issoufou, 67, was first elected president of Niger in March 2011 and won a second term in March 2016. He also attended the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in September 2018.

China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency reported that Xi praised the growing political mutual trust and “fruitful pragmatic cooperation between” Niger and China.

Xi vowed China would assist Niger to improve livelihood in such field as medical care, Xinhua reported, adding:

He also voiced his hope that China and Niger would expand exchanges in culture, youth, women and think tanks, so as to enhance the two peoples’ mutual understanding.

“As long as all countries follow a development path suited to their own national conditions, cooperate in jointly building the Belt and Road, and move toward the goal of building a community with a shared future for humanity, we will surely achieve success,” Xi declared.

China and Niger are ready to implement the outcomes of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to boost strategic cooperation over BRI,” he claimed.

The United States has accused China of using the BRI as a vehicle of “predatory loans” or “debt traps” collateralized with natural resources or other strategic assets that Beijing uses to undermine borrowing countries’ sovereignty.

China denies the allegations, arguing that they are intended to help develop Africa.

According to China, more than 125 countries and 29 international organizations had signed on the ambitious project, which aims to link Beijing to Europe, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere through a massive network of land and sea routes, the state-owned China Daily reported.

Xi vowed that Beijing would continue to lend support to Niger’s quest for stability, its fight against terrorism, and promote the United Nations support for an anti-jihad coalition known as the G5 Sahel Group made up of fighters from Burkina Faso, Mali. In the Sahel – now home to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), al-Qaeda, and Muslim Fulani herder terrorists – France has deployed thousands of troops while Germany is providing training.

In November 2017, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) reported that “the United States has been more hesitant to back the G5 … but ultimately the U.S. government pledged $60 million in bilateral support to the initiative.”

The pledge of American taxpayer funds came after an October 4 ambush by jihadis in Niger killed four American and injured two others.

China’s state-owned Xinhua noted:

Calling China and Niger good friends, partners, and brothers, Xi hailed the constantly strengthening political mutual trust and fruitful pragmatic cooperation between the two countries.

Xi said China stands ready to work with Niger to implement the outcomes of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to boost strategic cooperation on BRI and and benefit the two peoples.

”As long as all countries follow a development path suited to their own national conditions, cooperate in jointly building the Belt and Road, and move toward the goal of building a community with a shared future for humanity, we will surely achieve success,” Xi declared.

The Nigerien president indicated that Beijing’s “development had contributed greatly to human society…adding that China’s inclusive economic growth has lifted a large number of people out of poverty and accelerated the realization of the UN millennium development goal.”

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