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FOCAC’s Powerful Optics Present a Challenge to China’s Rivals

FOCAC is for me what the Winter Olympics is for a curling fan – the one moment every few years when the world briefly shares one’s obsession. So it was interesting (and revealing) how relatively muted the coverage of the triennial meeting has been this time around.

In part, this is due to the fact that FOCAC 8 itself has been slightly smaller than usual. It was held at the ministerial, rather than the summit level, and many leaders (including Chinese president Xi Jinping) attended virtually. Compared to the make-it-rain funding extravaganzas of the last two summits, each of which allocated $60 billion in funding, this one delivered a more modest (but still substantial) $40 billion. This sum breaks down into four $10 billion blocks: credit to African financial institutions, IMF special drawing rights, trade financing, and investment from the Chinese private sector.

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