|China, Africa celebrate anniversary of Beijing Summit|
BEIJING, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan and envoys of African countries got together here Sunday, celebrating the first anniversary of Beijing Summit of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum.
Addressing a grand reception at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Tang said the Beijing Summit has drawn up the blueprint for China-Africa cooperation and opened a new chapter in the friendly relations of the two sides.
Over the past year, various follow-up programs have been carried out, Tang said, adding political trust has been strengthened and substantial cooperation expanded.
To advance solidarity and cooperation with Africa is a long-term strategic decision for China and a basic principle guiding China's African policy, the state councilor said.
China will continue to join hands with African countries to carry on the spirit of Beijing Summit, deepen traditional friendship, promote common development and advance the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership, he said.
Cameroonian Ambassador to China Eleih-Elle Etian, also dean of the African Diplomatic Corps in China, regarded the Beijing Summit as an innovative and historic conference, which laid a new foundation for China's cooperation with African countries.
He commended China's commitment to the implementation of eight favorable policies toward Africa and the progress achieved so far in carrying out the policies.
African countries are ready to work closely with China and push forward China-Africa friendly cooperative ties to a new stage, the ambassador said.
At the Beijing Summit of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in November 2006, leaders of China and 48 African countries agreed to establish and develop a new type of strategic partnership, featuring political equality, mutual trust, mutually beneficial economic cooperation and cultural exchanges.
Chinese President Hu announced at the summit eight steps to consolidate the "new type of strategic partnership" between China and Africa, including further opening China's markets to exports from Africa's least developed countries by increasing the number of products receiving zero-tariff treatment from 190 to 440.
The measures also include building three to five trade and economic cooperation zones in Africa in the next three years, providing 3 billion U.S. dollars in preferential loans and 2 billion U.S. dollars in preferential buyer's credits to African countries and training 15,000 African professionals.
To implement the summit's commitment, Hu chose to visit eight African countries as his first overseas tour at the beginning of 2007, followed by other Chinese leaders including top legislator Wu Bangguo and top political advisor Jia Qinglin to the African continent for closer China-Africa ties.
Besides, China appointed a special envoy on African affairs in May, a measure that analysts consider as showing China's efforts to promote peace and stability in the region.
According to statistics, trade volume between China and Africa reached 55.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2006, up nearly 40 percent year-on-year.
China is the third largest trade partner of Africa, while Africa is an important destination of overseas investment made by Chinese enterprises.
"Increasing Chinese companies are attracted by the huge potential of the African market and choose to invest there," said Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wei Jianguo, noting China's direct investment to Africa totaled over 13.5 billion U.S. dollars by the end of 2006.
Wei said China would continue to help African countries improve their development capability, calling on Chinese firms in Africa to shoulder more social responsibility.
As one of the eight measures announced by Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Beijing Summit, China set up a one-billion-U.S. dollar China-African Development Fund in June, aiming to encourage Chinese enterprises to expand investment in Africa and promote the continent's economic expansion.
"China always emphasizes African countries' development and is capable of providing them with technologies to reduce poverty and experiences of boosting economy," said Liu Naiya, a researcher on African affairs with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"The China-Africa Cooperation Forum mechanism has became a flag guiding the friendship between China and African nations," Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said Sunday.
China would like to join hands with African friends to comprehensively implement various consensus achieved on the summit and push forward the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership, Zhai said.