Chinese President Hu Jintao began a 12-day tour of Africa, his third to the continent,
stepping up China's campaign to strengthen relations with the continent.
People stand in a street of the Liberian capital Monrovia, on the
eve of the visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao. Hu is on a
12-day tour of AfricaĦ£ [AFP]
launched the eight-nation trip by approving grants and loans to Cameroon worth
more than 54 million dollars (41.5 million euros), the west African country's
national radio reported.
The deals -- for financial and infrastructure projects -- were signed by Hu
and his Cameroonian counterpart, Paul Biya, at a ceremony at the presidential
palace in Yaounde, where Biya urged China to invest in his country's natural
resources and increase quotas for imports of Cameroonian basic commodities.
On Wednesday Hu and Biya signed agreements for two loans to Cameroon worth 30
and 40 million yuans (US$3.86 and 5.15 million) covering economic and technical
projects, and a preferential loan of 350 million yuans to finance a
They also signed a draft agreement on scrapping Cameroon's debt to China,
whose amount was not revealed, and a series of health and educational accords,
Cameroon national radio said.
Beijing is to build a mother and child hospital in Cameroon's economic hub,
Douala, as well as two rural schools, and will supply medical equipment to a
hospital in the capital, Yaounde.
After the ceremony, attended by large Chinese and Cameroonian delegations,
Biya announced that talks with the Chinese were under way for further schemes to
provide drinking water and build cheap housing.
China's trade with Cameroon was worth 338 million dollars in 2006 -- double
its value in 2005 -- Beijing's ambassador to Yaounde, Wang Sifa, recently told
government newspaper Cameroon Tribune.
"I think we can make further progress in deepening and widening our
relationship," Biya said at state banquet for Hu, hoping it could be an example
of a "balanced relationship between an advanced country and one that is
Hu, who is in Cameroon for the first time, visited a Chinese-funded hospital
and a sports complex being built by a Chinese firm.
He said at the dinner that cooperation between China and Africa was going to
"rise in volume and size to reach the highest levels and make a greater
contribution to the well-being of the Chinese and African people."
The Chinese president is due to leave on Thursday for Liberia and then travel
on to Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and the Seychelles.
Rights groups hope Hu will use his visit to Sudan to back international calls
for an end to the civil war in the Darfur region, a conflict the United States
has called genocide.
Beijing, by far the biggest foreign economic investor in Sudan, is thought to
be in a position to persuade Khartoum to accept UN peacekeepers in Darfur and
hopes are high that China will flex its diplomatic muscle in order to burnish
its international image.
Chinese officials visiting Sudan had until recently said Beijing would pursue
its economic interests on the continent without delving into politics.
But before Hu's tour, Deputy Foreign Minister Zhai Jun told journalists: "I
believe this visit will not only boost bilateral ties but also peace and
stability in this region."
However, the primary goal of Hu's trip is to foster even deeper economic ties
China argues that its economic policies are helping to lift the continent out
At a historic summit in November last year that brought leaders from 48
African nations to Beijing, Hu pledged to double aid to the continent and offer
five billion dollars in loans and credits by 2009.