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China Outlines Three Priorities For Its Ties With Africa in 2021

The Chinese government is laying out the key themes that will be discussed at the upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation leaders’ summit that is scheduled to be held sometime this year in Dakar, Senegal. 

In an interview with Xinhua ahead of this week’s five-nation Africa tour, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, economic recovery, and something called “transformative development” will top the agenda for China-Africa relations in 2021 — at least from the Chinese standpoint.

Predictably, Chinese authorities did not expand on any of these three narratives but they do seem broad enough to accommodate other key issues including debt relief (as part of “economic recovery”) and infrastructure financing (possibly under the banner of “transformative development.”)

Reaction to China’s Three Priorities for Africa in 2021

  • ECONOMIC RECOVERY: “While there will be specific priorities for each of the 53 countries with diplomatic relations with China here’s my brief take on ideal cross-regional African priorities for 2021. China in 2020 helped with debt suspension for fiscal space. (Green) economic recovery ultimately needs growth. That means African leaders robustly rebutting debt crisis claims & instead encouraging China to increase infrastructure finance via loans or PPPs” — Hannah Ryder, CEO of Development Reimagined (@HMRYDER)
  • MULTIPLE AGENDAS: “Well, there are potentially 54 African perspectives, right? But my guess is that priorities 2) and 3) will top the list. And for African countries that were hit hardest by COVID-19 infection and death rates, 1) will also be a priority” — Folashade Soule, senior research associate at Oxford University (@FOLASOULE)
  • INTERESTS ALIGNED? “What matters is not the order but the content of the priorities. Here, there is no evidence showing whether the 54 African countries are all expecting what Beijing is proposing” — Thierry Pairault, emeritus research director at France’s National Centre of Scientific Research (@SEMINAIREPCA)

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