Wang Yi stresses shared interests during Africa trip

Foreign minister tells Ghana president Chinese investment on continent beneficial to both sides

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 January, 2014, 4:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 January, 2014, 4:16am

Foreign Minister Wang Yi has promised that Chinese economic growth would benefit Africa, as he met Ghanaian President John Mahama in Accra.

Wang, who is on a four-nation African tour, called 2014 a year of "ever-deepening reform" in China, with the target of "national rejuvenation".

"The 1.3 billion people of China are working towards the modernisation of our country, something if achieved will be never-before seen in the history of mankind," Wang said. "Yet we have the confidence and the capability to achieve that strategic goal and in that process we are most willing to grow and prosper together with our African brothers."

China has increasingly eyed Africa to help fuel and fund its burgeoning economy, which was forecast to have grown 7.6 per cent last year, according to government estimates.

The administrations of President Xi Jinping and his predecessor, Hu Jintao , have closely courted African nations, with deals signed in sectors from oil and gas to agriculture and infrastructure.

In January 2012, Wang's predecessor, Yang Jiechi , hailed Africa as a "golden ground" for foreign investment. In July, Beijing pledged to double its aid to the continent to US$20 billion a year. Chinese trade with Africa grew to US$200 billion in 2012, prompting talk of the continent as a potential battleground for a proxy economic "cold war" with Western powers.

Wang said Ghana, an emerging oil producer that has enjoyed high growth rates in recent years, was an ideal partner. The country has been a relative haven of stability in volatile West Africa.

"We believe there is a lot we can learn from them," Wang said, adding that Chinese involvement in Africa could have "mutual benefits" for everyone.

The China Development Bank has agreed to a US$3 billion loan to Ghana's government to fund a variety of infrastructure projects, including in gas supply.

Mahama said the work would transform the country but expressed concern as only about US$600 million of the loan had so far been disbursed. "We are very anxious to have that matter dealt with," he said.