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Xi charts fresh era for Africa relations

By Wu Jiao in Durban, South Africa and Li Xiaokun in Beijing (China Daily)

08:28, March 29, 2013

Continent's leaders tell president growing ties benefit both parties

As soon as President Xi Jinping selected Africa as one of his destinations on his first foreign trip as leader, a hectic schedule was drawn up by his hosts.

In addition to meetings and talks with African leaders on Wednesday, Xi began his Thursday routine in Durban with a breakfast meeting with 13 African and regional leaders. The main topic of conversation was China-Africa cooperation.

African leaders were quick to tell Xi in a straightforward way that fears of China colonizing Africa were utterly groundless.

South African President Jacob Zuma, who helped arrange the meeting, said that China-Africa ties benefit both parties.

"It is beyond doubt that China will continue to play a more constructive role in the building of a more prosperous Africa," said Zuma, whose country hosted the Fifth BRICS Summit as well as the dialogue between BRICS and African leaders on Wednesday.

There have been suggestions that Africa is being colonized again, and critics often point to mineral projects by China in Africa.

Chad's President Idriss Deby told Xi that his African counterparts have a clear-cut view on these suggestions.

"As African leaders, we see that our partnership with China is transparent, and the cooperation offers precious opportunities, especially for African countries."

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Africa-China relations are based on a win-win approach without interference regarding internal issues. "The open policy gives Africa space for its own policies. We now have the right to have our own policies," he said.

President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said Western claims of Chinese "neo-colonialism" are "ridiculous and groundless".

"China is an important country and a key participant in the world economy. We have full confidence in China. We believe that China is sincere in its ties with Africa and its hopes for the continent's development," said Obiang.

China's trade with Africa has swelled over the past decade from about $10 billion in 2000 to $198.4 billion in 2012. China has been Africa's largest trading partner since 2009.

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