The Forum for Africa-China Cooperation (FOCAC) summit kicked off on 3 September 2018 under the theme, “China and Africa: Toward an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-Win Cooperation”. The summit endeavours to establish ways in which to increase diplomatic, economic and bilateral ties.

At the opening ceremony, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “China will implement eight major initiatives with African countries in the next three years and beyond, covering fields such as industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation and green development.”

The summit is a key diplomatic meeting attended by the largest number of foreign leaders to date. The delegations are largely led by presidents or prime ministers. Although an impressive majority of African leaders attended the summit, including the chairman of the African Union, the few leaders who did not stood out in their absence. These included King Mswati of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), who opted out of the summit because of a diplomatic spat with Beijing over the status of Taiwan.

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This summit is of special interest in the wake of the deluge of China-Africa deals and initiatives of the last few years.

Other highlights of the summit so far include China’s pledge to extend US$60 billion of financing to Africa. It will be provided in the form of government assistance, as well as investments and loans by financial institutions and companies. It also comes with the undertaking that China will remain committed to peace and development.