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Chinese-Rwandan military ties deepen

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Kigali, Rwanda (UPI) Aug 18, 2010
China's economic advance in Africa is drawing increased Western attention. Now Beijing is readying to increase its military presence in Africa as well.

Rwanda's minister of defense, Gen. James Kabarebe, met Tuesday with China's ambassador to Rwanda, Sun Shuzhong, the New Times reported on Wednesday.

According to Sun, he discussed military cooperation with Kabarebe, telling journalists that the forces of Rwanda and China are intent on improving existing levels of cooperation in training and logistics. "You know we have friendly relations between China and Rwanda, including our military sides, but this time I am here to talk about some future plans between the two armies. We have many programs between China and Rwanda that are coming. We have training programs coming up where Rwandans soldiers go to China for training. I think it's very important for all of us to know about the military and the development of both sides. The Chinese government supports capacity building plans for the Rwandan army. It is very important for us to have this kind of cooperation."

Sun added that China is not only focusing on economic development in Africa, but also security matters such as African peacekeeping.

Echoing Sun's remarks on increased Rwandan-Chinese cooperation Rwandan Defense Ministry spokesperson Lt. Col. Jill Rutaremara noted that Sun had also delivered an invitation to Kabarebe from his Chinese counterpart, Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, to visit Rwanda with a delegation on a cooperation and fact-finding mission.

Rutaremara said, "We have always had good relations with China, so that visit will be aimed at discussing ways of strengthening the existing cooperation. For instance, this year, China will train 21 Rwandan officers. That's not all, most of the equipment we use on the peacekeeping mission is obtained from China as well as other non-military equipment like emergency boats on Lake Kivu and the speed boats used to counter smuggling."

In the last decade China has made massive investments of labor and capital into Africa. In 2000 China-African bilateral trade was roughly $11 billion, rising to more than $50 billion in 2006. By the end of the year Chinese investment in Africa is expected to top $100 billion.

Chinese investment has been a double-edged sword for indigenous African economies, which cannot compete in many cases. In one example, there are now only 10 textile factories in Kenya compared with 200 in 2005.

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