China and Africa: Opportunities, Challenges and Forging a Way Forward
Over the past decade, China has actively sought to strengthen its economic and diplomatic relationships throughout the African continent and, in the process, has drawn much praise and incited equal criticism. China’s recent expansion into Africa marks one of the most significant developments in Africa, drawing international attention not only because of its extent but also because of its exponential growth in the areas of trade, investment, diplomatic ties and aid. China became Africa’s third largest trading partner in 2004, with trade volumes rapidly increasing each year. Total trade between Africa and China reached $55.5 billion in 2006, an increase of nearly 40 percent from the prior year. Based on Beijing’s political will, this number seems poised to grow. President Hu Jintao affirmed his commitment to increasing trade and anticipates that increased economic cooperation between China and Africa would lead trade volumes to double, reaching $100 billion by 2010. China’s direct investment in Africa has shown similar levels of growth, increasing from $280 million in 2005 to $370 million in 2006, according to official statistics.
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