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Hannah Ryder on the Importance of China Continuing the Tradition of Announcing a Big Financial Commitment at FOCAC

File image of China's President Xi Jinping (C) speaks as South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) and Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (R) look on, during the Forum On China-Africa Cooperation - Round Table Conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 4, 2018. Lintao Zhang / POOL / AFP

The highlight of every FOCAC, at least measured by the quantity of news headlines, is the size of the big financial package that’s unveiled at the end of the triennial conference. In 2012 it was $20 billion, then $60 billion in 2015, and $60 billion again in 2018. 

China largely stands alone as the only country that caps off its Africa conferences and summits with this kind of monetary announcement. Japan, Russia, Turkey, India, and lower-level gatherings in France, the UK, and U.S. stakeholders all avoid the practice.

And if President Xi Jinping wanted to make a break with past tradition, this year would be the right time given the tremendous economic challenges China is facing at home and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But Hannah Ryder, a prominent Africa-China analyst and CEO of Development Reimagined doesn’t think that would be a good idea.

The following is an excerpt from a column that Ryder published on Tuesday in African Business magazine, where she specifically addressed the importance of China’s financial commitment at FOCAC:

FOCAC is quite unique among so-called “Africa plus one” summits. It has generated some of the largest ever financial commitments to African countries on the part of a single country.

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