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China-Africa new strategic partnership to be expanded, strengthened: Chinese diplomat

DAR ES SALAAM, May 5 (Xinhua) -- "China-Africa new strategic partnership has currently reached a new level, however there is still a necessity for the partnership to be expanded and strengthened as the situation is developing," Liu Guijin, special envoy of the Chinese government on African affairs, told Xinhua here on Wednesday ahead of the plenary session of the 20th World Economic Forum on Africa.

Liu said that the "eight new measures" announced by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the fourth ministerial meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in the Egypt in November pointed out the favorable direction in the next three years to enhance China-Africa cooperation.

"First, expand the current China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, which has achieved great progress in recent years. The bilateral trade volume surpassed 106.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2008. However, it decreased a little by 14 percent to more than 90 billion dollars in 2009 due to the negative effect of the international financial crisis, " Liu said.

The Chinese diplomat also noted that the key sector to expand and strengthen China-Africa new strategic partnership lies on investment as the African continent lacks of funds for infrastructure, adding that Chinese companies made a lot of investment on Africa's infrastructure and the Chinese government is committed to continually supporting infrastructure construction in Africa for its development.

Liu also called for further enhancing political mutual trust between China and Africa, hailing the China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Program included in the "eight new measures" to enhance China-Africa cooperation, which enables the African and Chinese scholars and nongovernmental organizations among others to make more research on China-Africa relations to promote the mutual understanding of governments and peoples of both sides.

Liu also expressed China's willingness to work together with the international community to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which is already behind the schedule, especially the achieving of MDGs in Africa.

"China's interests is in accordance with the international community's interests and that of Africa," Liu noted, adding that China is always determined to keep its pledges.

On some Western media's criticism on China-Africa cooperation, Liu said it is unreasonable to blame China for exploiting Africa's natural resources, as Africa's export to other countries mainly consists of natural resources, for example to the United Sates, accounting for 87 percent and 85 percent in 2008 and 2009 respectively, compared to China's 80 percent.

"China would like to help Africa develop and exploit natural resources to earn funds for infrastructure development, enhance industrial ability and realize pluralistic trade," the Chinese diplomat said.

China is also concerned on improving Africa's human rights and good governance as the issue of the human rights is basically the issue of development, Liu said, noting that China is supporting Africa's development, which means to enhance the continent's social and economic development ability.

Despite of the economic crisis, China keep its commitment to Africa's assistance, which was highly appreciated by African countries, he added.

In one interactive session titled "China-Africa: Defining a Partnership for Growth" on May 6, the second day of the 20th World Economic Forum on Africa Forum meeting, participants will tackle on how interests with China can best be aligned in the development of a roadmap for mutual growth and development as Africa positions its economies within a changing competitive landscape, according to the Forum program schedule.

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