On 21 July, China’s President Xi Jinping arrived in Africa, where he will visit four countries in order to deepen the economic and military ties, while Beijing’s rival in the commercial war – the United States – has showing no particular interest in the second largest continent in the world.

China is already Africa’s biggest trading partner, and last year opened its first military base abroad in Djibouti, where a free trade area endorsed by China, defined as the largest in Africa, was also opened this month. The personal sent to Djibouti defends China’s interests in the area against the US and other large international investors. It aims to ensure smooth transport roads for Chinese companies, and to stabilise the situation in the non-peaceful region, including Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

By 2020 Beijing plans to complete the construction of 22 000 km of roads and railways of Ethiopian land which eventually form a single highway network connecting Ethiopia with Eritrea, Djibouti, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

The Beijing policy of open economic unions quickly substitutes former metropolitan areas, such as England, France, Belgium and Portugal, which are traditionally the closest partners of their former colonies on the continent. According to some analysts, the new way Beijing leads its non-interference policy can lead to a rapid collision with European nations, which have traditionally built links with their former colonies. So far, however, it is not the case, and even the opposite, China participates in more African peace missions from any other nation at the moment, and most investments on the continent’s country are linked to the construction of much needed infrastructure.

For the period from 2010 to 2015, Chinese credits for Côte d’ Ivoire’s fast-growing economy increased 14 times. This is because in recent years Chinese business has been increasingly interested in French (western) Africa. While the French companies dominated the region since the countries of West Africa have gained independence, nowadays their Chinese competitors are increasingly replacing them in large infrastructure projects.

The Xi’s visit to Africa also focused on the large-scale Chinese initiative “One Belt, One Road” aimed at linking Beijing with Africa, Europe and other parts of Asia through a network of ports, railways, power stations and economic zones. The Chinese government, banks and companies have allocated over 94 billion dollars to African governments and state-owned companies from 2000 to 2015.