EU Fears China’s Africa Influence

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Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel, speaking at a conference on "competition" between the EU and China over Africa, said Europe’s "charitable or paternalistic approach" was not working and had to come to an end.

Africa News Update





The European Union aims to set up a strategic partnership with Africa
to meet the continent’s most important needs and match growing Chinese
influence there, officials said Thursday.



"We are looking for new, high-level relations. We want it to be a
strategic partnership," Portugal’s State Secretary for European
Affairs, Manuel Lobo Antunes, told reporters.



"We want to respond to individual problems that arise in Africa," he
added, as Portugal prepares to take over the EU’s rotating six-month
presidency from Sunday.



Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel, speaking at a conference on
"competition" between the EU and China over Africa, said Europe’s
"charitable or paternalistic approach" was not working and had to

come to an end.



Europe’s aim is to boost and better target development aid, and to
broaden partnership with African countries on key issues ranging from
energy and climate change through good governance and immigration.



It would also aim to ensure peace and combat endemic diseases on the
world’s poorest continent.  The strategy will be at the centre of
an EU-Africa summit which Portugal wants to hold in December but is
under a cloud over the participation of Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe, who is the subject of an EU travel ban.



Portugal was EU president for the first-ever summit of the two
continents in Cairo in 2000. A second was scheduled for 2003, but
postponed as several European nations refused to allow Mugabe to attend.



"I regret the fact that we have had to wait seven years to give a new
push to the dialogue with Africa," said Lobo Antunes. "Others will not
wait and they are ready to leap on any European apathy."



The European Union is Africa’s biggest trading partner, followed by
China which has proven influential on issues such as the Darfur
conflict in Sudan — a country where China has key energy

interests.



China has been extending its financial footprint in Africa, a source of
many of the commodities — including oil — that it needs to power its
economic expansion.



Beijing hosted a summit with African leaders in November 2006 when it
pledged to double its aid to the continent and to offer five billion
dollars in loans and credits by 2009.



China is also building railways and other basic infrastructure in Africa, and hopes to open up a big market for cheap products.

"China, to Africans, is not just another donor country. We think we
understand their needs a lot better," Liu Guijin, Chinese envoy to
Africa, said at the conference.



"Our approach is not unilateral. It’s about helping countries that need
us," he said. "We are trying to adapt our policies to the needs of
African countries." 







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