There seems to be plenty to celebrate at the landmark China-Africa summit in Beijing. China says it will offer four billion euros in loans and credit, and double aid to Africa by 2009. However, away from the handshakes and banquets in the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square, critics have concerns about the closer ties.
Rights groups claim Beijing is turning a blind eye to human rights and environmental abuses. But the President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, is one of those happy about the new relationship: “I find the Chinese treat us as equals. The West treat us as former subjects.”
And Chinese businessmen like Charles Lu defend their right to trade with countries not fully democratic: “It may be that pure or 100 percent democracy is not very suitable for Africa. They are very undeveloped and suddenly they become a democracy. Maybe a lot of elements are missing.” Observers say the summit underscores China’s deepening ties with Africa, with big increases in investment and trade worth tens of billions of euros.