China Focus: High-level visits increase warmth of China-Africa relations

China waltzed up a new round of diplomatic manoeuvring with African countries as senior Chinese leaders are to kick out simultaneous visits to the continent later November.

Two of the 9-membered leadership of China will pay goodwill visits to eight African countries respectively in the next two weeks.

Chinese Vice Premier Huang Ju is to visit Tunis, Guinea, Botswana and Madagascar from Nov. 14 to 24.

Li Changchun, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, will go to Sudan, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania. At the interlude of his round-the-continent trip, Li will also pass through Egypt and Zimbabwe.

"The CPC and Chinese government have always affixed prodigious moment to the inveterate friendly relations with Africa," said Li Liqing, director-general of Bureau of African Affairs under the International Department of the CPC Central Committee.

Li, a veteran expert of African affairs, said in recent years that China has scaled up efforts to buttress its relations with Africa. She said the high-profile visits constitute part of China's efforts to strengthen political links with African countries.

Six of the nine top Chinese leaders have visited or are to visit Africa. Meanwhile, the heads of state and government leaders of more than 20 African countries have visited China in the past two years.

Since Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Africa in January 2004, Sino-African relations have ushered in a new era of multi-level, multi-dimension growth, Li said.

China and African countries are natural friends as they incurred similar suffering under Western power colonial rule. In the early 1960s, late Premier Zhou Enlai became the first Chinese leader to set foot on the African continent. The peaceful coexistence principles that Zhou advocated have become the bedrock of Sino-African relations. More than four decades later, President Hu reiterated China's adherence to these principles during his Africa trip, emphasizing respect of the independent choice of African countries on political and development patterns.

Moreover, after the end of the Cold War, China has added new contents to the traditional links with Africa in response to dramatic changes in the international environment, Li said.

On international issues, China and African countries share mutual understanding and support as they step up consultation and cooperation. China actively pushes the international community to give priority to the peace and development of Africa. It insists that reform of the United Nations should give priority to increasing the representation of African countries and other developing countries in the Security Council.

China has sent more than 800 military personnel to carry out peace-keeping missions in a number of African countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia.

In the fields of trade and economic cooperation, China emphasizes its common interests with African countries. Both China and Africa face the tasks of economic development and improving living standards. In recent years, as trade between China and Africa grew at a double-digit rate, China has explored new ways of cooperation that benefits both sides.

Li Liqing said the economic cooperation between China and African countries has been mutually beneficial, noting that investment and infrastructure development are growing fast.

The Chinese government encourages Chinese companies to set up operations in Africa. By the end of June, nearly 700 Chinese companies had set up cooperative projects in Africa, with a total investment of 750 million US dollars.

Meanwhile, Chinese companies have undertaken a great number of infrastructure development projects in Africa. The total value of contracts topped 30 billion US dollars by the end of last October.

The introduction of Chinese agricultural techniques has helped many African countries feed their population.

In addition, China is carrying out its promise to waive 10.5 billion yuan (1.3 billion US dollars) of debt on 31 African countries and reduce import tariffs on 25 least developed African countries. China never attached any political conditions to its aid to Africa.

The ever-growing economic and trade cooperation also promotes the development of China-Africa political relations. The China-Africa Cooperation Forum set up in 2000 provides a new platform for both sides enhancing mutual understanding, deepening friendship and expanding cooperation.

Within the framework of the forum, China and African countries have held two meetings at the ministerial level, which will become a China-Africa summit in next year at the request of some African leaders.

African countries also pay more and more attention to China's development and rising status in the international arena. The communique issued by Senegal when resuming diplomatic relations with China on Oct. 25 said that it is a historic decision of President Wade to resume diplomatic relations with China upon objective and careful consideration of world politics. The decision is in the fundamental interest of the Senegalese people.

Sino-African cooperation is being expanded to more areas within the framework of the cooperation forum. Sending experts, doctors, teachers and engineers to support the construction of African countries, the Chinese government also pledged to strengthen cooperation with them in human resources development, train 10,000 qualified personnel of different areas from 2004 to 2006, so as to increase the self-development capacity of African countries. The program is under way in such areas as press and information. China has trained dozens of media officials from 35 African countries in the past two years.

The closer economic and trade ties have in return stimulated the progress of political relations. The China-Africa Cooperation Forum set up in 2000 provided a new platform for both sides to enhance mutual understanding, deepen friendship and expand cooperation.

Under the framework of the Forum, two ministerial-level meetings between China and the Africa have been held. Appealed by state leaders of many African countries, the ministerial-level meeting will be upgraded to a summit of Chinese and African leaders next year.

China's achievements in development and its increasingly important international status have attracted more and more attention from African countries.

Under the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, the cooperation between China and the Africa is heading to other fields. Continuing to send experts, doctors, teachers and engineering and technical personnel to help African countries' construction, the Chinese government promises to further increase cooperation with African countries in the use of human resources.

China promised to train more than 10,000 persons of various abilities for Africa between 2004 and 2006, in a bid to raise Africa's ability of realizing development by itself. The program is now going on smoothly. Just in the information sector, China has trained dozens of media for 35 African countries for the past two years.

Li said human resource exchanges have become an important way of Chinese and African people to enhance mutual understanding and deepen friendship. Starting from last year, there have been more than 10 African countries each year who sent senior officials of the ruling parties to China for inspection and training, and eager to learn the situation and development experience of China. They showed a strong will to know China and expand cooperation with it.

In 2004, 132 young delegates from the 44 members countries of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum attended the first China-Africa Youth Festival held in China. Chinese President Hu Jintao together with state and government heads of 23 African countries sent a congratulatory letter to the festival.

In the same year, the Chinese Culture tour in Africa program was launched at the same time in 18 African countries. The Chinese government has now increased the number of African countries as a tourist destination for Chinese citizens from 2 to 12.

Li described the current state of Sino-African cooperation as "fruitful". She expressed her conviction that Sino-African cooperation has good prospects. Chinese leaders' pending visit to the African nations will further promote the growth of friendly and cooperative relationship between China and Africa in an all-round way.

Source: Xinhua

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