Johannesburg, the largest city of South Africa and an economic center in the region, is getting busier as Chinese President Xi Jinping is here to co-chair a historic summit on China-Africa cooperation with South African President Jacob Zuma from Friday to Saturday.[Special coverage]
Following the state visit activities in South Africa's executive capital Pretoria, Xi and his high-ranking delegation arrived in Johannesburg Thursday morning for a widely-watched three-day stay.
After his arrival, Xi spent several hours holding separate meetings with nine leaders of African countries in Sandton, a financial hub of Johannesburg.
The African leaders were Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe, Guinean President Alpha Conde, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Most of the top leaders of the 50 African member countries of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will attend the forthcoming summit, making Johannesburg the most busy city in Africa.
Given time limitation, it seems that the Chinese president could not hold formal bilateral meetings with every leader, but he will meet with the leaders, as a Chinese diplomat said, "in numerous forms."
In the evening, Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan, together with the African leaders, attended a welcoming banquet. Xi delivered a speech at the banquet, pledging China's commitment to pushing forward its friendship with Africa.
Before leaving for Johannesburg in the morning, Xi also held a meeting with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, in Pretoria.
Pragmatic cooperation was at top of agenda of the successive meetings Thursday.
During the meetings, Xi expressed China's willingness to strengthen economic ties with the African countries in areas such as investment and finance, infrastructure construction, manufacture, agriculture, production capacity and healthcare, as well as cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
China and Africa should work together to translate superiority of their friendship into momentum for win-win cooperation and common development, and translate rich natural and human resources on the continent into economic power and people's wellbeing, the Chinese president said at the banquet.
When meeting with Dlamini-Zuma, Xi said China and African countries should synergize their development strategies through pushing forward production capacity cooperation.
China is ready to provide assistance to Africa in addressing its bottleneck problems of backwardness of infrastructure and shortage of talents, he said.
Chinese and African leaders also reached consensus on enhancing mutual political trust, promoting people-to-people exchanges, and consolidating unity in addressing regional and global affairs.
Xi pledged China's adherence to the principle of noninterference in internal affairs of the African countries amid strengthening economic ties, calling on both sides to stand side by side in safeguarding the common interests of developing countries.
The summit, slated for Friday and Saturday, will be the second summit in the 15-year history of the FOCAC, and the first one on the African continent.
The upcoming summit will inevitably lift the Africa-China relationship to a new height, Zuma said at the banquet, calling on all the leaders to make joint efforts to ensure a successful summit so as to lay a solid foundation for deepening Africa-China cooperation in the future.
Zuma's remarks reflected the common expectation of the African countries.
On the Chinese side, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the FOCAC ministerial conference in Pretoria Thursday that during the summit, Xi will announce a series of significant measures to enhance China-Africa cooperation and support Africa's development in the coming three years.
The summit surely will become a "new milestone" in the history of China-Africa ties, Wang noted.