Benin: Strengthening Chinese-African Foreign Relations

On July 19, 2012 Benin’s President and Chairperson of the African Union, Thomas Yayi Boni, delivered opening remarks at the Fifth ministerial meeting of the Forum on China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) to discuss the need for Africa and China to maintain good relations with one another. This year’s conference was held in Beijing, China and encompassed various African and Chinese heads- of- state in a dialogue to initiate developmental programs for the next three years.

President Boni’s desire to preserve positive political and economic relations with China stems from his concerns that Africa’s fast-growing population will potentially harbor several challenges to the continent in regards to education, food, health, and energy. He therefore hopes China will continue to provide Africa with assistance in order to support infrastructural projects such as the construction of new highways, railroads, and telecommunication facilities.

While President Boni is receptive to an increase in Chinese investors, he affirms that Africa wants to be wealth-generating rather than exclusively being consumed for its energy and large consumer market. In order for Africa to become a global power, Yayi believes China needs to be more aware of its integration within the continent.

The subject of aid is one that develops often with controversy. Specifically in regards to Chinese aid, Western critics often highlight China’s leniency to “freely” give aid to African nations whom don’t comply with human rights standards. In addition, critics claim that aid in the past often goes unsupervised and barely reaches those with the direst need. Nevertheless in order for the aid to be successfully implemented, the nations should direct the allotted grants into specific programs that result in growth and sustainability: vocational skills training, increased medical personnel and training, and water supply projects.



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