Beijing ready for Sino-Africa summit

Updated: 2006-11-03 06:27

BEIJING -- Senior officials from China and 48 African countries concluded a two-day meeting in the Chinese capital Thursday, having made final preparations for the upcoming high-profile Beijing Summit scheduled for November 4-5.

The Senior Officials Meeting has been the fifth in the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), a mechanism for collective dialogue and cooperation jointly established by China and Africa to cope with new challenges and facilitate common development.

China will announce a package of major assistance, investment, trade and other key cooperation projects with Africa at the summit, said Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wei Jianguo at the Senior Officials Meeting.

Considering the wishes of African friends, the Chinese government has decided to offer more cooperation projects to Africa to deepen mutual benefit and cooperation and realize common development, Wei said.

During the Senior Officials Meeting, delegates from China and African countries reviewed the preparation work for the Beijing Summit and the FOCAC Ministerial Conference, and further exchanged views on the documents to be passed at the summit.

Meanwhile, 15 African leaders arrived in Beijing Thursday, including presidents of Zambia, Ghana and Kenya, and nine others had arrived earlier for the Beijing Summit.

During Chinese President Hu Jintao's talks with James Alix Michel, president of the Republic of Seychelles on Thursday, Hu said "the China-Seychelles relation has become a model for equal treatment and mutual assistance between big and small countries", and China will continue to boost the international community to pay more attention to the development issue of Seychelles and other small-island developing countries.

In a meeting with Sudanese President Omer Hassan Ahmed El- Bashir, Hu said China hopes the Sudanese government can strengthen dialogue with each concerned party on the Darfur conflict and try to maintain stability in the region.

"We hope the Sudanese government can find an appropriate settlement, maintain stability, and constantly improves the humanitarian conditions in the region," Hu said, noting China will continue to make contributions to an early realization of peace and stability in Darfur.

"We are willing to deepen mutual understanding and trust, widen bilateral cooperation in economy, trade, culture, education and health, and strengthen coordination and cooperation between China and Botswana in international affairs to maintain the common interests of developing countries," Hu told Botswana President Festus Mogaein in a meeting the same day.

China's capital has been dressed up in the run-up to the historic summit, with traditional Chinese red lanterns and billboards featuring typical images of Africa and posters proclaiming Sino-African "friendship, cooperation, development and peace" in English and French on major streets in downtown Beijing.

On the sideline the of the Beijing Summit, the Chinese government is also cranking up a campaign to promote African culture among citizens, with two exhibitions opening here Thursday, one of coins and stamps from 48 African countries and the other of African handicraft, to showcase African landscapes, places of historical interest and relations with China.

"It's a good opportunity for ordinary Chinese to have a glimpse of Africa," said Cheng Hui, an avid collector who provided some of the handicraft pieces on show. "Many Africans are born to be artists. Even items from 2,000 years ago still make vogue artwork today."

Johnson Weru from Kenya said the exhibition made him feel at home and would help enhance friendship and understanding between the Africans and the Chinese.

So far over 1,200 Chinese and overseas journalists have been registered for the covering of the summit, including 118 African reporters that have arrived in Beijing. About 300 African reporters are also gearing up for the Third Ministerial Conference on Friday, and the summit over the weekend.

Seeing comfortable environment, convenient communication equipment, broadband, IDD telephone, bulletin boards, many African reporters coming to China for the summit said they feel like working at home.

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