This week saw Chinese premier Li Keqiang make his first trip to Africa since taking office. Eight days took him to four countries: Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya. Trade and development were on top of the agenda as Li sought to establish his vision of a new type of strategic partnership with African nations.
A long awaited visit.
Kenya was the last leg of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s four-nation tour of the continent, his first since taking office.
The past week saw the signing of dozens of deals between China and African nations covering areas as diverse as trade, culture and finance.
It was all part of Li’s mission to push the relationship to a new level, a vision he articulated in a speech at African Union headquarters.
The timing is also significant. 50 years ago former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai made a landmark trip to Africa which proved to be a major milestone in what would prove to be a long and fruitful relationship.
From humble beginnings, trade between African and China is now worth over 210 billion US dollars, over 2,000 times what it was in 1960. And, for 5 years now, China has been Africa’s largest trading partner. What’s more, Beijing has also supported over 270 infrastructure programs across the continent.
Infrastructure, like the Tanzara Railway. Connecting Tanzania and Zambia, the project is a major symbol of China’s commitment to the region.
Li’s trip saw gains on both sides. It also suggests that this generation of Chinese leaders may place a new emphasis on Africa in their foreign policy priorities.
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