China Steps Up Efforts to Fight Militancy After Mali Attack

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China has pledged greater cooperation to Africa in the fight against militancy after an attack on a hotel in Mali killed 19 people. REUTERS/Joe Penney

By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING, Nov. 26 (Reuters) – China will strengthen its cooperation with Africa in the fight against violent extremism after an attack last week by Islamist militants in Mali killed 19 people, including three Chinese citizens, China’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for relevant departments to boost security work outside China’s borders last week after gunmen attacked a hotel in Mali’s capital on Nov. 20.

The three Chinese citizens killed in the hotel attack were executives from the state-owned China Railway Construction Corp.

“As China continues to promote pragmatic cooperation between China and Africa, we will strengthen bilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism and the fight against extremism,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a speech to diplomats and reporters.

He did not give any details.

Wang also reiterated China’s stance that its assistance to Africa would be without political conditions. A senior Chinese official said on Wednesday China was set to announce new aid to African nations when Xi visits Zimbabwe and South Africa next month.

Xi will also co-chair a two-day summit between China and African countries in Johannesburg next month.

Beijing’s focus on growing trade and aid in Africa leaves it open to charges by the West of turning a blind eye to conflicts and rights abuses in the continent.

Cooperation between China and Africa would not “take the old road by traditional powers” nor sacrifice Africa’s environment and long-term interests, Wang said.

“Anyone wearing coloured glasses or making remarks on China-Africa cooperation with ulterior motives in the face of the overwhelming facts will be powerless,” Wang said. “They will be boycotted by the Chinese and African people.”

China’s friendship with Africa dates back to the 1950s, when Beijing backed liberation movements in the continent fighting to throw off Western colonial rule.

In recent years, there has been renewed pressure on Beijing to provide security for more than 800,000 citizens employed overseas, particularly in Africa where China has become a major investor.

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