Chinese President Hu Jintao said Saturday that China will establish three to five trade and economic cooperation zones in Africa in the next three years.
Hu made the remarks while addressing the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
President Hu, 41 heads of state or government and senior officials of 48 African countries that have diplomatic ties with China, including Prime Minister of Ethiopia which co-chairs FOCAC, Alpha Oumar Konare, chairman of the Commission of the African Union (AU) and representatives from regional and international organizations, attended the landmark gathering highlighting "friendship, peace, cooperation and development."
Prior to the opening ceremony, a grand welcoming ceremony was held at the Great Hall of the People.
The summit has been widely acclaimed as the most important and largest meeting between Chinese and African leaders since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.
At the two-day summit, China and African countries will review the development of China-Africa relationship and blueprint the future cooperation.
FOCAC is a mechanism for collective dialogue and cooperation jointly established by China and Africa to cope with new challenges and facilitate common development.
Since the FOCAC launch in 2000, three ministerial conferences have been held in Beijing and Addis Ababa, with an action plan discussed and passed, laying out cooperation programs between China and Africa from 2007 to 2009 under the FOCAC framework.