China has signed $80 million worth of economic agreements with its new ally Chad as a part of a diplomatic tour of Africa. The Chinese foreign minister has made stops in Benin, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau, offering the countries aid and projects. Some analysts warn that human rights and development may suffer from unconditional economic deals with China, while others say the competing interests could benefit the countries' economies. Kari Barber reports from our West and Central Africa bureau in Dakar.
After two days of diplomatic meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, the Chadian government has signed economic, loan and debt-relief agreements totaling more than $80 million.
In August, Chad became the latest African country to cut ties with Taiwan and ally itself with Beijing. Disagreements with oil companies and the World Bank earlier in the year led to a freeze on Chad's oil profits.
Some Western analysts say that China's policy of noninterference in internal affairs could propagate human rights violations and bad governance.
Richard Dowden, the director of the Royal African Society in London, says Chad is an example of how China's economic policy may benefit governments in Africa, but could make life worse for the people living in the countries.
"They are a godsend for Chad because that breaking of the agreement with the World Bank would mean that aid is being cut, and here come the Chinese with lots of money, new loans," he said. "'We will sell you weapons, we will give you loans for weapons. We really do not care about that sort of thing.' For the Chadian government it is a godsend."
Some analysts say the influence of bodies such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund combined with the economic competition from China could help countries by allowing them to diversify their diplomatic and economic ties.
Adrien Feniou of research group Global Insight says governments in West and Central Africa need to figure out how to best play the competing interests of China and the West off each other.
Feniou says he thinks the pressuring power of the World Bank, IMF and bilateral arrangements between countries will allow the West to remain competitive for influence in Africa.
"The beginnings of that are being seen in Central African Republic, where France is playing a central role in stabilizing the state's finances and we are likely to see in the future French companies go in to, say, the diamond trade or, say, the timber trade in there," he said.
China's itinerary in Africa also includes stops in Central African Republic, Eritrea and Botswana in the coming days. In visits earlier this week China offered to build a dam and a military hospital in Guinea Bissau and to forgive Equatorial Guinea of about $75 million in debt.