CHINA / National

Premier's tour heats China-Africa ties
Updated: 2006-06-17 05:56

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Saturday embarks on a seven-nation African tour to Egypt, Ghana, the Republic of Congo, Angola, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, highlighting the position of Africa in China's diplomatic strategy.

China-Africa relations have witnessed a continuous heating-up this year. Wen's visit will be China's another important action in its diplomacy toward Africa following visits of Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and President Hu Jintao to the continent in January and April, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu on Thursday.

Experts on China-Africa relations believe that the "African heat" in China's diplomacy reflects China's increasing attention on this continent and its will to expand and deepen the bilateral relations.

China's "African heat" is not all of a sudden but a continuous stance in fostering traditional friendship, said Xu Weizhong, an expert with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

The Chinese government issues its first-ever African policy paper early this year, putting forward its proposals for all-round cooperation with Africa in various fields in the coming years.

China and African countries enjoy an extensive and solid foundation for friendly cooperation with 47 out of 53 African countries having established diplomatic relations with China.

China and African countries need to cooperate with each other as the advantages of the two sides are complementary, Xu said.

Africa has abundant resources, broad markets and pressing desire to develop its economy, while China has much experience gained through its reform and opening-up drive as well as practicable technologies and products, Xu said.

Wang Hongyi, another scholar on African studies with China Institute of International Studies, said it is important to strengthen China-Africa cooperation under the situation of economic globalization as China and African countries all face the challenge of development.

Wang said, Africa is an indispensable partner of China and the two sides need mutual support in dealing with international affairs.

Energy is an important part of China's cooperation with Africa. "Some people think that energy, the import of oil, is China's sole purpose in developing economic ties with Africa. This view is erroneous and one-sided," said He Yafei, Chinese assistant foreign minister, at a news briefing last Friday.

China and Africa have very comprehensive economic and trade ties. Trade volume between China and Africa reached more than 37 billion U.S.dollars in 2005, a rise of 35 percent from a year earlier and almost four times higher than in 2001. And China has so far launched over 900 aid projects in Africa.

In exploiting resources in Africa, Xu said, China attaches importance to the diversification of resources exploration so as to facilitate Africa's sustainable development.