European and African nations agreed on some free trade issues at their summit meeting, but conflicting ideas on how to handle the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe and the Darfur genocide overshadowed other issues. The European Union is increasingly concerned over inroads being made by China which is establishing economic ties with many African nations. It was hoped this first meeting between member states of both continents could herald the birth of new partnership that would head off the Chinese influence. Instead, the anger over allowing Mugabe to attend despite his horrific record in ruining his nation’s economy and brutal treatment of those opposing him led to a boycott by English Prime Minister Brown and continual discussions at the sessions about Mugabe. The ongoing crisis in Darfur also aroused anger among many European nations who believe Africa is failing to rise to the challenge of policing its own members when they engage in genocidal actions.
The coming years will witness the rise of China as a dominant trading and economic power in Africa. The Chinese government always places economic considerations as their highest priority and will never get bogged down over extraneous issues such as human rights.