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Xi sets high hopes for Africa

2013-03-25 09:24 Global Times     Web Editor: Sun Tian comment

Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his visit to Russia on Sunday and continued his overseas debut by heading to Africa, which both analysts and businesspeople see as a gesture aimed at enhancing Sino-African ties and helping Chinese companies prepare for further cooperation.

Xi arrived in Tanzania Sunday afternoon and is scheduled to have talks with his counterpart Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete on bilateral cooperation. The two sides will sign a series of agreements on the economy, trade and culture.

During an interview on Sunday ahead of Xi's arrival, Kikwete expressed his anticipation regarding the visit, which he said would consolidate the relationship between the two countries.

Kikwete said cooperation between the two sides has focused on economic areas, which he hoped could expand to the spheres of technology and anti-terrorism in response to the threat of Somali pirates.

"I hope the great 'Chinese dream' comes true," the president said in Chinese.

During his 1-day stay in Tanzania, Xi will also deliver a keynote speech at the Julius Nyerere Conference Center, which was funded by China, and attend a wreath-laying ceremony in the cemetery for Chinese experts based in the country.

This is Xi's first trip to the African continent since he became China's president earlier this month.

"The visit is a clear indication that Chinese leaders not only value Sino-African cooperation but are also committed to the spirit and more solid success," Denise Kodhe, executive director at the Nairobi-based think tank, the Institute for Democracy & Leadership in Africa-IDEA, told the Global Times Sunday.

China and Tanzania will cooperate to work on a port which is expected to connect the African country with Chinese, Middle Eastern and European markets, according to a 21st Century Business Herald report, which revealed that the budget is around $10 billion.

China became Africa's largest trading partner in 2009. Last year, China announced new measures to support Africa in the next three years, including providing $20 billion of loans.

"China-Africa cooperation is comprehensive," Xi said prior to his trip, adding that Beijing valued "friendly relationships with all African countries."

"The situation is improving for both Chinese companies and African partners under the framework of the China-Africa cooperation summit," Li Qiang, general manager of Kenya office with China Road and Bridge Corporation, told the Global Times.

Li said Chinese strategy toward Africa has changed from signing deals with a singular countries to boosting regional cooperation by building infrastructure to enhance regional communication in the continent.

"With cooperation scales and levels are increasing between the two parties, more Chinese companies are being encouraged to go overseas and achieve mutually beneficial results with African partners," Li said.

Despite their favorable relationship, negative voices also emerge periodically. Lamido Sanusi, governor of Nigeria's central bank, blasted China this month in an opinion piece in the Financial Times, saying the relationship was one in which Africa sold its resources for manufactured goods, and the essence of the relationship was colonialism.

"China, like any other international development and business partner, has an interest in Africa. It is not proper to simply say that China is taking advantage of Africa," said Kodhe.

Li said China's cooperation with Kenya is a typical case showing that China values mutual benefits for both sides.

"Kenya's major resource is tourism, but the Chinese government and companies contribute greatly to infrastructure construction and healthcare improvement, which is why China and Kenya maintain their strong relationship," Li said.

Other than efforts from governments to boost cooperation, Kodhe also called on African countries to take the chance to cooperate to empower their people with skills training to increase their ability to create employment.

Following his visit to Tanzania, Xi will attend the fifth BRICS summit in South Africa on Tuesday before heading to the Republic of Congo, the last destination of this visit.

Special Report:

President Xi Jinping's Four-nation Debut Tour

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