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China, Kenya agree to bolster relations

By Zhao Shengnan and Zhao Yanrong | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-20 07:54

Measures to increase imports and promote bilateral trade to continue

China and Kenya elevated their relations to a comprehensive partnership and signed eight documents to boost cooperation on Monday, as both sides' top leaders met for the first time since they took office.

The agreements cover several sectors including economic cooperation, infrastructure, people-to-people exchanges, finance, environmental protection and new energy.

Calling China and Africa a community of destiny, President Xi Jinping said China firmly supports African countries' independent development and wants to continue playing a constructive role in the continent's stability and development.

Xi made the remarks when meeting Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is in China from Sunday to Friday for his first state visit outside Africa since taking office in April.

Before the meeting, Xi, who made the African continent part of his first foreign trip after taking office as president in March, welcomed Kenyatta with a 21-gun salute outside Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

Xi congratulated Kenyatta on his election victory, saying, "I believe, given your vigor and vitality, you should be able to lead the Kenyan people in registering even greater accomplishments on the road ahead toward your national development."

China would like to continue measures to increase imports from Kenya and promote a balanced growth of bilateral trade, the president said.

He urged both sides to strengthen cooperation in special economic zone construction, agriculture, wildlife protection and fighting cross-border crime.

Kenyatta said his country, which is committed to realizing industrialization and improving people's living conditions, wants to learn from China's development, as the two countries share similar historical experiences and visions for the future.

China has become Kenya's largest source of foreign direct investment and second-largest trade partner. By June, China's cumulative direct investment in Kenya had reached $474 million. The bilateral trade volume reached $2.84 billion last year.

Kenya, an important bond between China and Africa, also hopes China, "a strong and true friend", will play a bigger role in promoting Africa's peace and prosperity, said Kenyatta.

The East African country is one of the most popular African destinations for Chinese tourists, having the largest number of Confucius Institutes on the continent, and is a major center for broadcasting and reporting by Chinese media.

In 2012, some 41,000 tourists from China visited Kenya, an increase of 10.4 percent compared with 2011, while Nairobi is trying to tap the potential in China to realize the target of 5 million tourists annually.

Kenyatta's choice of Beijing, which is fast becoming his country's biggest economic engine, speaks volumes about China's growing presence in Kenya, The Washington Post said on Sunday.

Xu Weizhong, an expert on African studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the potential of China-Kenya cooperation, which is mutually beneficial, is huge.

Kenya is one of the fastest developing countries in Africa and it has strong growth in various sectors, particularly in industry and agriculture. This provides a good platform to develop further cooperation for the two countries, he said.

"Kenya's location is very important in the region, and the country has one of the best airline companies in Africa. Cooperating with Kenya can help Chinese investors enter a much bigger market in East Africa," Xu added

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(China Daily 08/20/2013 page12)

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