Premier Li's visit to cement China-Angola strategic partnership
Updated: 2014-05-08 16:15
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LUANDA - On a regular Thursday morning here in Angola's capital, two major hotels in the downtown area were bustling with crowds of Chinese. They were entrepreneurs, business representatives and journalists coming all the way from Beijing for an upcoming visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
Li will start an official visit to Angola in the afternoon, the first visit of a Chinese premier to the southwest African state in eight years. This is also Li's first visit to Africa since he took office in 2013.
Governments, enterprises and financial institutions of the two countries will sign a number of agreements on economic and trade cooperation during Li's visit, China's Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said.
"The signing of those agreements will be the highlight of the visit," he said.
Gao did not disclose the details of the agreements, but said the documents will cover areas of medical science, hydro-power, agriculture and people's livelihoods.
"Angola is the third stop of Premier Li's African tour. The visit is of significant importance in comprehensively improving China-Africa strategic partnership and strengthening the solidarity and cooperation between developing countries," Gao said.
Years of domestic conflict and political instability had ravaged Angola and left the country's infrastructure in tatters. Since the end of the civil war in 2002, Angola's economy has been growing rapidly after it started oil exploitation and massive reconstruction programs.
China has participated actively in Angola's post-war reconstruction, playing a major role in building and repairing the country's infrastructure, including highways, railways, power plants and harbors.
In 2013, trade volume between the two countries reached 36 billion U.S. dollars. By the end of 2013, China's accumulative investment in Angola had exceeded 8 billion dollars. Angola has become China's second largest trade partner in Africa and the largest crude oil supplier in the continent.
As China's cooperation with Angola and other African countries deepened, the alleged "China's neo-colonialism in Africa" has been hyped up by the Western media.
He Wenping, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said such accusation cannot hold water as cooperation between China and African countries is based on mutual benefit.
China's investment to African countries has helped boost their economies, increase local tax revenues and create jobs, she said, adding that China has also introduced technologies to Africa, helped train professionals, reinforced African countries' ability of independent development and improved local people's livelihood.
According to an International Monetary Fund report, China-Africa cooperation has contributed to more than 20 percent of Africa's development. To lessen Africa's burden, China had altogether forgiven 20 billion yuan (3.2 billion U.S. dollars) worth of debts owed by African countries by the end of 2013.
Basilio Cassomo, an economic adviser to the Angolan president, said in an interview with Xinhua that Angolan leaders believe the safest foreign cooperation came from China, as Beijing seeks win-win situation and never imposes any preconditions on bilateral or international cooperation, nor does it try to meddle in the affairs in another country.
Angola was satisfied with and appreciated China's cooperation and its contribution to Angola's reconstruction, he said.
According to Angola's National Growth Plan 2013-2017, the country will push for the diversification of its national economy while continuing to increase investment, employment and productivity.
Moreover, Cassomo said Angola is trying to diversify its oil-dependent economy, and he believed Premier Li's visit to Luanda will usher in a new era in bilateral cooperation and inject new vigor into the strategic partnership between the two countries.
Li is currently in Nigeria for an official visit. His four-nation African tour started with Ethiopia, and will bring him to Kenya after Angola.