China pledged $60 billion in aid and loans to African nations Monday, saying the financial support comes with no “political conditions attached.” At a Beijing forum with representatives from almost every African nation, Chinese president Xi Jinping said the money will go primarily towards supporting infrastructure development.
According to The Washington Post, Xi’s pledge matches $60 billion dedicated to Africa at a similar forum in 2015. Critics have voiced concerns that China is sending Africa deep into debt with these investments, but a state-linked Chinese publication argued that the loans are necessary.
“Africa is still at the initial stage of industrialization, and the process is very likely to collapse without sustainable investment growth,” wrote the Global Times on Sunday, ahead of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
Xi also announced Monday that debt from some Chinese interest-free loans due at the end of the year would be written off for some of Africa’s poorest nations, BBC reports. China will also continue providing free military support to the African Union, as well as setting up a peace and security fund.
While some continue to worry over the potential “debt trap,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told the forum that their leaders “refute the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa, as our detractors would have us believe,” the Post reports.
China’s infrastructure aid in Africa is part of its Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to link Europe, Africa, and Asia through trade. This latest investment in the project comes as the U.S. continues to mount trade wars with nations around the world, particularly China.