At the invitation of Malian President Amadou Toumany Toure, Chinese President Hu Jintao will make a two-day state visit to the country from Thursday. The visit is widely believed to significantly push forward China-Mali ties, expand pragmatic cooperation between the two countries and open a new chapter in bilateral friendship.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1960, China and Mali have built up political trust and support toward each other.
China has unswervingly supported Mali's efforts in safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity and provided unselfish assistance to help boost Mali's social and economic development; the Malian government has adhered to the one-China policy in support of China's great cause of national reunification and has extended firm support to China on major issues.
Thanks to efforts made by both countries, the eight policy measures announced by China at the Beijing Summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in November 2006 were being successfully implemented in Mali, deepening mutually-beneficial cooperation in various fields.
According to the trade and commerce section of the Chinese embassy in Mali, bilateral trade has been on an upward curve, touching a record high of 230 million U.S. dollars in 2008. While cotton and other agricultural byproducts are shipped from Mali to China, machinery, tea and textiles go in the opposite direction.
As the booming bilateral trade benefits both, a number of Chinese enterprises, such as China Overseas Engineering Group Co. Ltd, China GEO-Engineering Corporation and China Light Industrial Corporation for Foreign Economic and Technical Cooperation, have entered Mali for contracted projects and joint-ventures.
The Chinese enterprises are mainly engaged in projects such as drilling, construction, building roads, farm renovation and irrigation, and joint-ventures in spinning mills and sugar refineries -- making an active contribution to the development of the western African state.
In the field of economic aid, the China-assisted construction of the office building of the Malian presidential residence was completed in 2007, and 10 women-children centers around the country and a hospital in the capital of Bamako are under construction. A contract for the China-assisted construction of the Bamako No. 3 Bridge was finalized in December.
The Malian government and its people have also provided support within their means to the Chinese government and the Chinese people. Right after the destructive earthquake that hit southwestern China's Sichuan Province in May, President Toure, on behalf of Mali and its people, extended deep condolences to China and made donations to the quake-affected region to help the reconstruction efforts of the residents.
Bilateral cooperation between China and Mali has actually been in multi-fields and multilateral developments ever since the Beijing Summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. It has covered such fields as agriculture, medical treatment, education and culture.
In the agricultural field, China provided a preferential loan to Mali in November for the construction of the Sukara region's third large-scale sugar refinery, whose expected annual saccharose output of 100,000 tons will turn Mali into the largest sugar producer in West Africa. Besides, China has also sent a group of agricultural specialists to Mali.
In the field of medical treatment, Chinese doctors first arrived in Mali in 1968 and have dedicated themselves to the health of the Malian people, winning widespread compliments. The Chinese medical assistance of more than 40 years to Mali was described as fruitful and highly effective by one of the founders of Mali.
During President Hu's upcoming visit, the opening ceremony of a malaria treatment center, built under mutual cooperation, will be held.
As for education and culture, more than 500 Malian students have graduated from Chinese schools and are currently working in a variety of professions in Mali. The Chinese Film Week and the Window of China, both held in November 2007, sparked new fervor about China in the capital of Bamako, and a series of performances by artists from central China's Henan Province last June were warmly welcomed and commended.
Prior to President Hu's visit, Malian President Roure said it bears historical significance and will fully exhibit the unbreakable intimate friendship between the two countries, while Dioncounda Traore, president of Mali's National Assembly, said the visit will hugely promote the Mali-China friendship.