It took four years to build, comes fully equipped with watchtowers and is now the property of the East African nation of Burundi. China handed over the keys to the US$22 million presidential palace in Mutimbuzi district north of Burundi’s commercial capital Bujumbura last Thursday, completing another in a long list of projects by Beijing in the continent. The complex, which covers roughly 10,000 square metres (107,600 sq ft), was fully funded and built by China, and its handover last week was a symbol of friendship and cooperation between the two nations, according to the Chinese embassy. “This is the first time in Burundi’s history to get such a nice infrastructure. It proves the strongest political and diplomatic relations existing between Burundi and China,” Chinese state news agency Xinhua quoted Burundian Foreign Affairs Minister Ezechiel Nibigira as saying. Li Changlin, China’s ambassador to Burundi, was also present at the handover. Legal bump in the belt and road? A Mideast port giant, a Chinese rival and a Hong Kong lawsuit over a Djibouti deal To the northeast in Ethiopia, China has built and paid for the US$200 million African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa and is helping the country launch its first satellite in September, complete with US$6 million in training and financial support for the lift-off, according to Reuters. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced US$60 billion in financial aid and investment pledges at last year’s Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing. The commitment was on top of another US$60 billion announced at the summit three years earlier. Wang Hongyi, from the Institute of West Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said a large share of China’s aid projects was concentrated in Africa. “Projects like the presidential palace are a form of aid and come free of charge to recipient countries,” Wang said. “China’s investment in Africa comes in a few categories, and includes large projects such as mines, oilfields, and hydropower plants. “These projects are usually funded by large Chinese state-owned companies.” Will China seize prized port if Kenya can’t pay back its belt and road loans? Shen Xiaolei, a foreign affairs specialist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China made a wide range of investments in Africa. “Construction projects like the presidential palace are actually only a small portion of China’s presence in Africa,” Shen said. “Infrastructure projects, such as the railway linking Djibouti to Ethiopia and other airport and hub facilities, are the bulk of China’s investments in the continent.” China is Africa’s biggest trading partner, and its involvement in the resource-rich continent has expanded from trade and investment to security, peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. China built its first overseas naval base in the military port in Djibouti. The port is located where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden, giving access to one of the world’s busiest waterways. Chinese naval vessels have also been active in the Gulf of Aden since they started carrying out anti-piracy operations in the region in 2008.