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Continent's leaders tell president growing ties benefit both parties
As soon as President Xi Jinping selected Africa as one of his destinations on his first foreign trip as leader, a hectic schedule was drawn up by his hosts.
In addition to meetings and talks with African leaders on Wednesday, Xi began his Thursday routine in Durban with a breakfast meeting with 13 African and regional leaders. The main topic of conversation was China-Africa cooperation.
African leaders were quick to tell Xi in a straightforward way that fears of China colonizing Africa were utterly groundless.
South African President Jacob Zuma, who helped arrange the meeting, said that China-Africa ties benefit both parties.
"It is beyond doubt that China will continue to play a more constructive role in the building of a more prosperous Africa," said Zuma, whose country hosted the Fifth BRICS Summit as well as the dialogue between BRICS and African leaders on Wednesday.
There have been suggestions that Africa is being colonized again, and critics often point to mineral projects by China in Africa.
Chad's President Idriss Deby told Xi that his African counterparts have a clear-cut view on these suggestions.
"As African leaders, we see that our partnership with China is transparent, and the cooperation offers precious opportunities, especially for African countries."
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Africa-China relations are based on a win-win approach without interference regarding internal issues. "The open policy gives Africa space for its own policies. We now have the right to have our own policies," he said.
President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said Western claims of Chinese "neo-colonialism" are "ridiculous and groundless".
"China is an important country and a key participant in the world economy. We have full confidence in China. We believe that China is sincere in its ties with Africa and its hopes for the continent's development," said Obiang.
China's trade with Africa has swelled over the past decade from about $10 billion in 2000 to $198.4 billion in 2012. China has been Africa's largest trading partner since 2009.
According to Xinhua, about 85 percent of the staff employed by the more than 2,000 Chinese companies operating in Africa were Africans.
Obiang added that Western countries "are not in the position to blame us" as they have never done anything substantial for African countries.
President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni said "in my eyes, all the major railways in Africa, notably the railway from Tanzania to Zambia, were built by China, and this reflects the specialty of China-Africa ties".
President of Angola Jose Eduardo dos Santos said the continent needs financing, technology and training, and "we have got sincere help from China in all these sectors". He added that China, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has also extended support and understanding for Africa.
Xi's visit to Africa has been widely seen as a testimony of China's efforts to further consolidate its traditional ties with the continent.
Calling China and Africa a "community of a shared destiny", Xi said during his visit that China is ready to continue its support for Africa's development and promote Africa's equal participation in international affairs.
Xi also said that China will encourage more companies to boost investment in Africa and urge them to fulfill their social responsibilities.
Zuma, and other African leaders, noted how Africa needs to address a bottleneck in inadequate infrastructure and financing, as well as speed up industrialization and add value to mineral resources.
At Wednesday's meeting between BRICS and African leaders, Xi asked BRICS countries to put developing infrastructure as a top priority. The president said China is willing to help Africa with preliminary work to promote connectivity and conduct resource surveys.
Liu Guijin, China's former special envoy for African affairs, said the performance of Chinese and African economies in recent years showed they indeed share the same destiny, as Xi said.
However, Africans have a limited knowledge of China, said the former Chinese ambassador to South Africa.
"Much of the information carried by African media is picked up directly from the West, and such reports on China are often biased," Liu said, adding that the expansion of Chinese media in Africa, including the launch of China Daily's African edition, is helping change the situation.
In talks with his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday, Xi said China accords great importance to Egypt's status and influence as a major Arab, Islamic and developing state, and cherishes the traditional friendship.
Xi said China is glad to see the progress Egypt made in its transformation process and fully understands the temporary difficulties it faces, adding that China is ready to continue its aid to Egypt within its capabilities.
Morsi said Egypt appreciates China's understanding and support, and vowed to push forward the strategic cooperative relations. He said Egypt would take effective measures to guarantee the safety of Chinese tourists.
Regarding the Syria crisis, Xi said a political solution is the only way out and he hopes that all parties in Syria pursue a solution to issues concerning political transition as soon as possible.
China always maintains an objective and just position on the issue and will respect and support any solution plan that is universally accepted by all sides of the conflict, he said. Morsi said Egypt expects an early end to the Syria crisis and attaches great importance to China's positive role in solving the issue.
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Xinhua contributed to this story.
(China Daily 03/29/2013 page1)