Chinese President Hu Jintao Saturday announced a package of major assistance, investment, trade and other key cooperation projects with Africa in an effort to forge a new type of strategic partnership and strengthen cooperation in more areas and at a higher level.
While addressing the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), President Hu listed eight steps China will take in years to come, which include:
---Double its 2006 assistance to Africa by 2009.
---Provide 3 billion U.S. dollars of preferential loans and 2 billion U.S. dollars of preferential buyer's credits to Africa in the next three years.
---Set up a China-Africa development fund which will reach 5 billion U.S. dollars to encourage Chinese companies to invest in Africa and provide support to them.
---Build a conference center for the African Union to support African countries in their efforts to strengthen themselves through unity and support the process of African integration.
---Cancel debt in the form of all the interest-free government loans that matured at the end of 2005 owed by the heavily indebted poor countries and the least developed countries in Africa that have diplomatic relations with China.
---Further open up China's market to Africa by increasing from 190 to over 440 the number of export items to China receiving zero-tariff treatment from the least developed countries in Africa having diplomatic ties with China.
---Establish three to five trade and economic cooperation zones in Africa in the next three years.
---Over the next three years, train 15,000 African professionals; send 100 senior agricultural experts to Africa; set up 10 special agricultural technology demonstration centers in Africa; build 30 hospitals in Africa and provide 300 million yuan of grant for providing artemisinin and building 30 malaria prevention and treatment centers to fight malaria in Africa; dispatch 300 youth volunteers to Africa; build 100 rural schools in Africa; and increase the number of Chinese government scholarships to African students from the current 2000 per year to 4000 per year by 2009.
Hu also offered five-point proposal to cement closer ties between China and Africa.
First, China will deepen political relations of equality and mutual trust with Africa, Hu said. "We will maintain high-level contacts and mutual visits, establish a regular high-level political dialogue mechanism and conduct strategic dialogue to enhance mutual political trust and traditional friendship and achieve common progress through unity," he said.
Secondly, China will broaden win-win economic cooperation with Africa. "We will give full play to our respective strength, enhance economic and trade ties, broaden areas of cooperation, support cooperation between our business communities, upgrade cooperation in human resources development and explore new ways of cooperation so that both sides will share the benefits of development," Hu said.
Thirdly, China will expand exchange for cultural enrichment with Africa. "We will strengthen cultural and people-to-people exchanges to increase mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples and particularly between the younger generation. We will enhance exchanges and cooperation in education, science and technology, culture, public health, sports and tourism to provide intellectual motivation and cultural support for China- Africa cooperation," he added.
Fourth, China will promote balanced and harmonious global development together with Africa, he said, adding "We will enhance South-South cooperation and promote North-South dialogue. We urge developed countries to honor their promises on market access, aid and debt relief. We should strive to meet the Millennium Development Goals and steer economic globalization in the direction of creating prosperity for all."
Fifth, China and Africa will strengthen cooperation and mutual support in international affairs, he said. "We are committed to upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, respecting diversity of the world and promoting democracy in international relations. We call for enhancing international security cooperation based on mutual trust and benefit and addressing each other's concerns through consultation and coordination so that we can jointly respond to threats and challenges to global security."
"Without peace and development in China and Africa, there will be no global peace and development," Hu noted.
Hu said China and Africa enjoy trust and cooperate closely to uphold the legitimate rights and interests of the developing world, adding that China has firmly supported Africa in winning liberation and pursuing development, and it has also received great support from African countries.
"China has trained technical personnel and other professionals in various fields for Africa. It has built the Tanzara Railway and other infrastructure projects and sent medical teams and peacekeepers to Africa. All this testifies to the friendship cherished by the Chinese people towards the African people," said Hu.
"We in China all not forget Africa's all support for restoring the lawful rights of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations. Nor will we forget the sincere and ardent wish of African countries and people for China to realize complete and peaceful reunification and achieve the goal of building a modern nation," said Hu.
President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo, while addressing the opening ceremony of the summit, expressed Africa's appreciation to China for its announcement of eight new actions.
"The Chinese government has, as always, fulfilled its commitment and the African people have benefited a lot from China's generosity," said Sassou, whose country chairs the AU for the 2006 session, Sassou said the two documents -- the Beijing declaration and an action plan for the year 2007 to 2009 -- cover various aspects of China-Africa relations and will upgrade their cooperation to a new level in the coming three years.
The documents had already been discussed and passed at Friday's ministerial conference of the FOCAC and are expected to be signed on Sunday.
"We are glad to learn from the documents that China will continue to offer assistance to Africa, especially in the fields of implementing the New Partnership for Africa's Development, meeting the Millennium Development Goals and restarting the WTO Doha Round of talks," Sassou said.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Ato Meles Zenawi told the opening ceremony that the China-Africa partnership forged 50 years ago must be renewed to address immediate challenges of fighting poverty and backwardness and seeking economic independence.
Ethiopia is the co-chair country of the forum Meles said the economic complementarity between Africa and China was huge. "Africa provides to the growing Chinese economy a reliable field for investment, trade and the utilization of natural resources for mutual benefit. China provides for Africa a source of successful development experience, technology transfer, trade and investment."
The prime minister said that African people had "very high expectations" from the renewed Sino-African strategic partnership and "welcomed" China's tremendous progress in the economic and other fields.
The two-day Beijing Summit of FOCAC focuses on "friendship, peace, cooperation and development", and the Chinese and African leaders will review the development of China-Africa relationship and blueprint future cooperation.
FOCAC, launched in 2000, is a mechanism for collective dialogue and cooperation jointly established by China and Africa to cope with new challenges and facilitate common development.