National Times – The Chinese government through its resident Ambassador in Burundi has hand-over a Chinese funded and built presidential Palace to Burundi’s government, in a ceremony that marked the strong bilateral relationship between both countries.
The Chinese began construction of the Presidential palace in 2016, and took 2 and a half year to complete the project. The $22 million project was offered by the Chinese government to its Burundian counterpart as a “friendship gift” from the Chinese people to the People of Burundi.
At the handing over ceremony of the Palace on the 14th of February, Chinese Ambassador, Li Changli, to Burundi’s, described the building as symbol of the friendship ties between Burundi and China. “It is a symbol of friendship and cooperation between China and Burundi,” Li said.
Burundi’s Foreign Affairs Minister and second vice-President Ezechiel Nibigira told the attendees “This is the first time in Burundi’s history to get such a nice infrastructure. It proves the strongest political and diplomatic relations existing between Burundi and China”.
The building contains offices for the President and two vice presidents, conference rooms, rooms for onsite guards, among several other facilities.
As China’s interest and ties with African countries deepen Beijing has offered flashing “friendship” projects including railways, stadiums, public buildings to several African countries. It donated a $200 million headquarters for the Africa union in 2012.
Critics have accused China of using such gifts to gain influence in Africa. In 2018, African Union authorities told French Paper Le Monde that that Chinese companies were using the IT infrastructure installed by Chinese contracts at the AU headquarters to spy and eavesdrop on official communication in the building.
In addition, others have accused China of giving out political oriented gifts that have little to no benefit for the average Africa.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has counter these accusations arguing China is building infrastructure in Africa that is helping everyone. Xi Jinping told guess at the recent Forum for China in Africa that the evidence of the benefits of China’s interaction with Africa is there for everyone to see.