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China will modify its model of cooperation with Africa to make infrastructure construction plans by subregion, instead of focusing only on individual countries.
Minister of Commerce Chen Deming made the remarks on Friday after a conference of China and 50 African nations.
"African countries are usually small ones, so infrastructure construction is often stopped at the borders," Chen told reporters.
"From now on, China will pay special attention to cooperation with African subregions. We will make overall plans on infrastructure construction in the subregions, taking the interconnection of roads, water, electricity and telecommunications networks into consideration and pushing forward bilateral cooperation in a market-driven way."
Ministers of foreign affairs and foreign economic cooperation from China and Africa attended the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (center), his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Kamel Amr (left) and South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana- Mashabane meet journalists after the Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing on Friday. FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY
The ministerial conference has taken place every three years since 2000, when the forum was established.
During the two-day meeting, the delegates reviewed the implementation of tasks set in the last meeting in 2009 and explored new ways to deepen China-Africa relations and improve the forum’s mechanism.
The forum also forged two documents at the meeting, including the Beijing declaration and an action plan for 2013-2015.
China and Africa prepared the cooperation documents for half a year, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told reporters after the ministerial conference.
"The conference conveyed a strong signal to the outside that China and Africa ... will unswervingly push forward solidarity and cooperation among developing economies," Yang said.
He also said that Beijing respects the right of Africa to choose its own partners. "Africa belongs to the African people. We respect them and hold very friendly emotions toward them," Yang said.
In fact, China’s cooperation with Africa is not only helping the continent, but also inspiring other countries to cooperate with Africa, the foreign minister said.
President Hu Jintao announced at the opening ceremony of the conference on Thursday that Beijing will provide a $20 billion credit line to African countries over the next three years. This loan package is twice the amount of China’s last pledge of aid to Africa in 2009.
He also said China will deepen cooperation on African security affairs and provide financial support in that regard, which experts said has been in line with trends on the African continent.
Other priorities of cooperation in the coming three years include expanding aid, supporting the African integration process and promoting civil exchanges.
"Yesterday we saw that China’s promise (for the past three years) was delivered. The new program with the new strategic planning is very exciting, and Africa ... is expecting a lot from China," said Jean Ping, former chairman of the African Union Commission.
Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou told reporters after the conference on Friday that the priority areas in developing China-Africa relations "completely meet the expectation of African countries and African people".
Responding to criticism from Western countries that China is neo-colonizing Africa, Issoufou said neither Niger nor other African countries see it in that way.
"China and African relations are based on equality," he said.