Chinese President to start Africa trip next week

China hopes a trip to Africa by President Hu Jintao next week will show his nation's commitment to the continent reaches beyond oil, mines and deals, a senior diplomat said on Friday.

Chinese President to start Africa trip next week
Hu will go to Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Mauritius on the Feb. 10-17 trip, none of which are major sources of commodities for China, though he will first visit Saudi Arabia, the largest source for crude oil imports last year for the world's third-largest economy.

"Perhaps everybody thinks that on President Hu's visit to Africa he'll sign this or that deal or contact about energy or mining," Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun told a news conference.

"Of the five countries on the itinerary for Hu's trip this time, apart from Saudi Arabia, the four African nations are not rich in energy or resources," he said. "Thus, China-Africa relations are not only based on energy or resources, especially on this trip.

Beijing has pumped billions of dollars into Africa in recent years in search of natural resources for its booming economy, and has become a major aid donor to the poorest countries there.

China says its aid comes with no strings attached and that its trade with the continent helps local economic development.

At a summit with African nations in Beijing in 2006, China and Africa signed 16 agreements worth a total of $1.9 billion.

The deals between 12 Chinese firms and 11 African governments and companies followed Hu's pledge offering $5 billion in loans and credit and doubling aid by 2009.

Trade between China and African countries reached $106 billion in value in 2008, a rise of 45 percent on 2007, according to Chinese customs numbers.

Hu's trip comes on the heels of a tour by Commerce Minister Chen Deming, who visited Kenya, Zambia and Angola last month.

Zhai said Hu would announce new aid for Africa, but would not provide details.

He was also coy on what energy agreements may be signed with Saudi Arabia and said as far as he knew no Chinese energy executives would be travelling with Hu.

"Energy cooperation is an important part of the relationship," Zhai said. "I think it will be an important part of talks between President Hu and King Abdullah. As to what documents may be signed, we are still in talks. If talks go smoothly, they will be signed."

Last Mod: 06 Şubat 2009, 12:19
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