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China in Africa: The Real Story

China's New Debt Cancellation & Aid Pledges

Deborah Brautigam

At the Millennium Development Goals summit in New York about ten days ago, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced the latest figures on China's accumulated debt cancellation so far:  25.6 billion yuan of debt "for the heavily indebted poor countries and the least developed ones". [This comes to about $3.83 billion at an exchange rate of US$1.00 = RMB yuan 6.69.]

He also announced a continuation of China's MDG pledges:  Over the next five years (i.e. before 2015), China will contribute:
  • construction of 200 schools
  • 3000 Chinese medical experts
  • train 5000 medical staff from developing countries
  • provide medical equipment and medicines for the 100 hospitals built earlier
This raises a few questions. What happened to the earlier pledge to train people for the schools being built? Are the Chinese medical experts the same as the teams of doctors traditionally sent to African countries, or is this something different? How are the medical staff going to be trained? Is this a full degree, or M.D. or nursing course being offered? Or simply a few weeks of training? 

More details on all of this would be helpful.