China reaffirms food support for Africa

Updated: 2011-08-13 08:05

By Wu Jiao (China Daily)

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SHENZHEN - Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Ethiopian and Fijian leaders on Friday to reaffirm China's commitment to international aid and political and economic cooperation.

Hu told visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Friday that China is concerned with the famine in Africa and is working hard to deliver food aid as quickly as possible to the draught-affected Ethiopia.

Meles arrived in Shenzhen to attend the opening ceremony of the 26th Summer Universiade.

China reaffirms food support for Africa

Prior to the opening ceremony, Hu met with Meles and reiterated his promise to provide Ethiopia with 50 million yuan ($7.8 million) in emergency aid and to transport it to the country as soon as possible.

Famine now affects 12 million people with Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti among the hardest-hit countries. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced from their homes in search of food and water.

On Aug 4, the Chinese government announced that it will provide direct humanitarian assistance to drought-affected areas in the Horn of Africa. It said it will give aid totaling 90 million yuan ($14 million) to Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti and is holding consultations to provide humanitarian assistance to Somalia.

A famine is declared when malnutrition rates among children exceed 30 percent, more than one in 5,000 people die from starvation each day, and people are unable to access food and other basic necessities.

The United Nations World Food Programme reports that it is about 40 percent - or $190 million - short of what is needed to combat hunger in Africa, and is appealing for help.

Severe food shortages in the region are driven by cyclical drought, poor land management, limited availability of animal health services, inflation, conflicts over land and water, poor hygiene and a lack of dietary diversity.

The international community has planned a series of fundraising activities in the following weeks to help curb the sweeping famine.

Hu also said that in recent years Sino-African relations have made significant progress as a result of the China-Africa Forum. He said the two sides are working on developing a new strategic partnership that emphasizes mutual trust in politics, win-win economic cooperation and increased cultural exchanges.

Hu said China is ready to improve communication and cooperation with Ethiopia and other African countries in the interest of extensively advancing the China-Africa strategic partnership.

Gu Xiaojie, Chinese ambassador to Ethiopia, told the media earlier last week that trade volume between the two countries reached about $1.48 billion last year.

The increasing amount of Ethiopian exports to China has contributed to the rise in trade volume.

During his visit to China, Meles is expected to request for loans that will contribute to Ethiopia's development.

Good friends

Hu also met with Fijian President Epeli Nailatikau on Friday, who also came to attend the Friday evening opening ceremony of the 26th Summer Universiade.

"China regards Fiji as a good friend and partner in the Pacific islands region," Hu said, adding that bilateral links have seen fresh progress in recent years.

He said the two sides trust and support each other politically, share economic growth and enjoy mutual respect and cultural understanding.

The two countries have carried out close cooperation on major regional and international issues and jointly safeguard the interests of developing economies, Hu said.

The Fijian president has been vigorously involved with strengthening diplomatic relations between Fiji and China.

Nailatikau said Fiji is ready to work with China to increase dialogue and cooperation in all areas, including politics and economics, to advance bilateral relations.

The Chinese embassy to Fiji has sponsored five university athletes and two sports officials to come to Shenzhen to attend the Universiade.

The university athletes will compete in short-distance running and javelin.

Xinhua and Qin Zhongwei contributed to the story.