Rwandan President Paul Kagame, current head of the African Union, has blamed Europe for the Mediterranean migrant crisis while discussing China’s engagement with Africa, all in an interview with Austrian media outlet that caught the attention of Beijing on Tuesday.
Kagame sat for the interview with Die Presse while attending the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe meeting last week. Kagame’s remarks included his view that Europe has neglected Africa, with investments that flow back to Europe but “leave nothing on the ground in Africa.”
“Instead of helping Africa it further impoverished the continent,” Kagame said. China too presents challenges, though its presence in Rwanda – and generally in Africa – is welcome.
“Africans have to work on themselves above all,” he said. “In Rwanda, we know our capacity and which Chinese proposals we should accept, so as not to be overloaded with debt. But there are also countries who didn’t do good deals and are now getting choked.
“Not all of them, but it can happen,” he added. “It depends on us Africans. Why don’t we know how to negotiate with China? Of course the Chinese are not only here as philanthropists to help us.”
When asked about the remarks during a Tuesday press briefing, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying defended Beijing’s role and assured that African nations are always free to make their decisions.
“In recent years, the practical cooperation between China and Africa in various areas has achieved fruitful outcomes,” she said. “When carrying out cooperation with Africa, all relevant parties of the international community should listen to Africa’s voices, trust Africa’s wisdom and respect Africa’s will.
“Pointing fingers at Africa and making irresponsible remarks on China-Africa cooperation in disregard of facts or out of political purposes will definitely not get the approval from Africa,” she added.
A copy of Kagame’s interview in English translation is available from New Times here.
Image: MFA China