Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai on Monday retorted accusations that China's cooperation with Africa is a practice of "new colonialism", saying the African people will never welcome colonialists to plunder their resources.
"Some African leaders believe it is China's entry into Africa and China's increasing trade with the continent that have helped some African resources show their true market values," said the minister at a press conference held here on the sidelines of the national legislature's annual full session.
"This means that things have changed now in Africa because the Chinese are there doing some normal and rational deals and offering reasonable market prices," said the minister.
Bo recalled his African tours accompanying Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, saying that wherever the Chinese leaders went in Africa, they received warm welcome from the African people.
"I believe, the cheerful crowd, not organized by the government, will never welcome colonialists in high glee, nor will they welcome people from the other parts of the world to come to plunder their resources," he said.
Trade and economic cooperation between China and Africa has been growing rapidly in recent years, which culminated in the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held last November.
At the Beijing Summit, Chinese President Hu Jintao announced the Chinese government's eight steps to forge a new type of China- Africa strategic partnership, which include doubling its 2006 assistance to Africa in three years, providing 3 billion U.S. dollars of preferential loans and 2 billion dollars of preferential buyer's credits to Africa in three years, and setting up a China-Africa development fund of 5 billion dollars to encourage Chinese companies to invest in Africa.
Over the past decades, China helped build 19 schools, 38 hospitals and several stadiums with 760,000 seats in Africa, Bo said, citing statistics of the Commerce Ministry which is responsible for China's foreign aid.
"China did all this out of sincerity, as well as the friendly feelings and sentiments it has developed toward Africa over the past decades," Bo said.
But some people have criticized China, saying that China's operation in Africa is only for resources and Chinese loans have put new debt burdens on Africa, and accusing China of pursuing " new colonialism" in Africa.
Refuting criticism on China's oil cooperation with African countries, Bo said that statistics show China's share of Africa's total oil export last year only stood at 8.7 percent, compared with 36 percent for Europe and 33 percent for the United States.
"If an 8.7-percent share could be suspected as an act of plundering resources, then what about 36 percent and 33 percent?" he asked.
In history, the Chinese people had suffered a lot from colonialists, and the country had never tried to colonize any foreign land even when it was in the period of great strength and prosperity, said Bo.
When Zheng He, a senior official of the powerful Ming Dynasty ( 1368-1644), made his seven epic sea voyages in 1405-1433 to many places extending from the South Pacific to remote Africa, he only brought back one giraffe.
"Chinese at that time, including the emperors, only wanted to safeguard their own land and had never attempted to colonize any foreign land," said Bo.
Chinese entrepreneurs at modern times, unlike their Western counterparts, seem to be reluctant to go overseas and do business in foreign countries due to their traditionally strong affection toward family and homeland, said the minister.
This explains why China has attracted more than 60 billion U.S. dollars of foreign investment while investing only 10 billion U.S. dollars in other countries and regions, he said.