Chinese President Hu
Jintao gives a speech at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summit of the
Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) at the Great Hall of the People
in Beijing, Nov. 4, 2006. [Xinhua]
Chinese president pledged billions of dollars in aid to Africa as the biggest
diplomatic gathering ever hosted by China got under way, aimed at deepening
trade, cooperation, and genuine partnership.
Hu announced fresh pledges of aid and loans in the next three years, saying
China's aid to Africa would double by 2009. [Full Text]
China would also provide three billion dollars of preferential loans and two
billion dollars of preferential buyer's credits loan to the continent, he said.
Beijing would also cancel more debt owed by poor African countries in the
form of interest-free government loans, he announced. [Full Text]
Business is a major focus of the summit, with more than 2,500 deals under
Hu pledged China would further open up its market to Africa by increasing the
number of tariff-free export products from 190 to 440 and establish three to
five trade and economic cooperation zones in Africa. [Full Text]
A five-billion-dollar development fund to encourage Chinese companies to
invest in Africa would also be set up. [Full Text]
will also train 15,000 African professionals, build schools, hospitals and
anti-malaria clinics and send Chinese youth volunteers to Africa, he added. [Full Text]
"China will forever be a good friend, good partner, good brother of Africa,"
Hu told the 48 African countries represented at the Great Hall of the People.
"Common development is the shared aspiration of the Chinese and African
peoples... We are committed to pursuing mutually beneficial cooperation to bring
the benefits of development to our peoples."
"Without combined development between China and Africa, there will be no
global peace and development," the Chinese president said.
Trade between China and Africa is expected to exceed US$50 billion this
year, a near tenfold increase since 1995, and one of the main themes of the
China-Africa Forum is ensuring that number continues to grow.
A total of 41 African heads of state and government, a vice president and
several top economic leaders are representing their nations at the meeting. It
is the biggest diplomatic gathering ever hosted by China.
Beijing invited the leaders from 48 of Africa's 53 nations -- with the other
five countries which recognize Taiwan also encouraged to send representatives --
in what the officials and scholars are hailing as an historic event between a
fast-growing China and the world's least developed continent.
"China and Africa cooperation serves peace and development on both sides as
well as the world," China's foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said. A
total of 35 African heads of state, six heads of government, a vice president
and several top economic leaders are representing their nations at the meeting,
"When China is building roads and schools and providing health infrastructure
and agricultural technology to African countries, are we damaging human rights
in Africa? Are we hurting good governance in those countries? African people are
benefiting from China's projects," said Liu.
President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are holding multiple meetings with
a procession of African heads of state at the Great Hall of the People, with new
cooperation projects and aid programs being discussed, and new ideas of a wide
range of interests being exchanged.
China's media have promoted the "three 50s": 50 years of Chinese-African
cooperation, 53 African countries, $50 billion in two-way trade, a near ten-fold
increase since 1995. China Central Television is conducting a nationwide survey
to select 10 outstanding African icons, contenders including South African
diamonds and the Sahara Desert.
Sources said that by the end of the meeting China will unveil a variety of
trade and aid concessions to the African countries. These may include a list of
African goods that can enter China tariff-free, increases in aid and technical
cooperation and debt forgiveness.
More than 2,500 business deals will be under discussion at the official
two-day summit beginning Saturday, Chinese deputy trade minister Wei Jianguo
And comments by participants about a statement to be released on Sunday after
the summit emphasized that China and Africa are intent on building up their
relationships in a wide range of spheres aside from trade.
"The Beijing Declaration will aim to establish a new type of strategic
partnership between China and Africa based on equality, mutual trust, economic
win-win cooperation and cultural exchanges," an envoy from summit co-chair
Ethiopia was quoted in China's state press as saying.
African leaders were also taken on a tour of some of the venues being built
for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, including the National Stadium known as the
"bird's nest" because of its mesh of interlocking steel beams.
Some Western governments have expressed concerns or nervousness in the face
of the getting-closer ties between China and Africa, some criticizing Beijing's
unrestricted lending and investment policies in Africa regardless of African
countries' governance and human rights record. China shrugged off that claim.
"Our principle when handling our relations with other countries is to never
try to impose our social system, development mode, values and ideology upon
other countries," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao