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Chinese new president's Africa visit critical to development: Chinese envoy


08:23, March 19, 2013

ABUJA, March 18 (Xinhua) -- The impending visit of China's new leader Xi Jinping to Africa might be critical to the continent's future development, Zhong Jianhua, a special envoy of the People's Republic of China in Africa, said on Monday.

Zhong, while addressing a press conference at the Chinese Embassy in Abuja, told reporters that he believes President Xi's visit could be an opportunity for the Chinese leader to announce his country's policies for Africa in the coming years.

Xi, who was elected as Chinese president last week, will be making a debut visit to Africa since he assumed office, when he attends the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit slated for March 26-27 in South Africa.

The Chinese president is likely to meet with other African leaders to discuss how to strengthen the Sino-Africa ties during his stay on the continent, according to the special envoy.

"There could be an address for the Chinese policy for this continent. And that address or speech, could be critical. Let's wait for just few days until he (Xi) gives a speech. Then, we can have a clear picture on what is going to happen," Zhong said.

The envoy, whose job is to help the Chinese foreign minister to follow the hot issues in Africa and also to exchange ideas and views with African leaders, expressed delight in the fruitful results of China-Africa cooperation, saying the Forum On China- Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has helped both sides to record several achievements in recent years.

"In the last few editions of FOCAC, the agricultural exchange was being mentioned again and again. The government is doing more and more on that. The number of African students studying in China keeps increasing but it's not quite enough. We think we need to do more on that. It can only be increased step-by-step and also the number of Chinese students coming into this continent is also increasing," he added.

Zhong said the Sino-Africa cooperation has also helped in integrating more Chinese companies into African countries, a development which has made it possible for some of the firms to be localized.

"As Chinese government, we encourage Chinese companies to become localized because we fully understand that without the localization, the Chinese companies cannot stay here for long," he said.

"We don't want short term investment. When we do it, we want it as a long term one. So, localization is always encouraged by the Chinese government," he explained, noting there are a few obstacles in that area of development.

The ambassador cited language barrier as one of the concerns of the African leaders, saying the problem can be resolved if both sides locally promote the teaching of Chinese and African languages to balance their mutual and bilateral partnership.

"We need to learn more about African culture, which we lack for quite a long time and we need to have more Chinese intellectuals learning about African culture because without good cultural exchange, you cannot very well understand your partners. Misunderstanding sometimes could be very dangerous and disastrous. The government pays quite good attention to this cultural exchanges," he added.

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