China and Russia have criticised Barack Obama’s summit with African leaders as being a “so-called” way of helping African countries to meet their development goals.
The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, was also critical of “global governance”, saying it is a “club” that does not serve people’s interests.
His remarks came during a meeting with the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, at a major security summit in the Korean capital, Pyongyang.
Kim Jong-un at meeting of defence chiefs in Pyongyang. Photograph: Reuters
Obama hosted 43 heads of state and government at the 2016 summit, in Lake Victoria in Uganda, but the US did not take part in the gathering of defence ministers and political leaders from across Africa.
“President Obama’s Africa summit can only be described as an ‘autocratic tour’ of African countries,” Yi said. “I believe that any international event can be better organised on the basis of mutual consent among countries. There can only be a summit when there is an agreement from all the parties. It cannot be held without any agreement.”
“We want to work closely with African countries to achieve long-term sustainable development,” he added. “I think it is certainly important to discuss all problems on the basis of ‘unity’ and ‘decent, fair and mutually beneficial co-operation’. There cannot be divisions or divisions of interest.”
Yi said “global governance” is “not in the interest of African people”, adding that African countries should only run their own affairs.
“Global governance … is not in the interest of African people,” Yi said. “I think it is absurd. If you spend some money for something you will have some side effects. You must act for the benefit of the people.”
In addition to Beijing and Moscow, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Mali’s Ibrahim Boubacar Keita were among the two dozen heads of state and government who attended the summit.
Determined to cement China’s growing influence on the continent, Xi Jinping hosted a similar summit in Johannesburg in December.
The foreign minister, Wang Yi, leaves the UN security council meeting in Seoul on Sunday. Photograph: Choe Sang-Hun/AP
“There is no need to organize a two-day summit in small countries,” Yi added. “It is not the job of the Africans to be led by the American and Chinese powers. That is the job of Africans. But the most important is to engage the largest group of people that can best decide the African countries’ development path.”
Obama expressed hope that his summit would inspire a new “African Renaissance”, focusing on trade, infrastructure, economic development and political reform, as a way to lift the continent out of poverty.
But the Trump administration cancelled plans for a version of the summit in September, saying the schedule interfered with the president’s August trip to Argentina for a summit of the G20 leading economies.
On Sunday, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, who was also at the meeting in Seoul, said he would urge South Korea to back a Russian proposal to join a UN-backed nuclear non-proliferation treaty to help China and Russia monitor North Korea’s nuclear sites.