11/06/2006, 00.00
CHInA – AFRICA
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Pledges and money underpin Sino-African economic and political alliance

New contracts are signed and strategies are laid out as the Chinese giant and the world's poorest continent concluded their summit yesterday in Beijing. In addition to establishing 'neo-colonial' relations, China wants to establish the diplomatic ties with the last five African states that still recognise Taiwan.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Leaders from China and from 48 African nations concluded the China-Africa Co-operation Summit on a pledge to form a new strategic partnership and adopt an action plan to deepen political and economic links over the next three years. The pledges came yesterday as trade deals worth US$ 1.9 billion were signed and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao unveiled plans for the two sides to double trade to US0 billion in four years.

In the final statement, read out by President Hu Jintao, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak yesterday afternoon, the parties said that their partnership would be based on "political equality and mutual trust, win-win economic co-operation and cultural exchanges".

Perhaps, with Taiwan in mind, the statement noted that the partnership was not an alliance targeting any nation or group. Never the less, Beijing did urge the five African countries without diplomatic ties with China, but with Taiwan—Burkina Faso, Swaziland, Malawi, Gambia, and São Tomé and Príncipe—to establish them right away.

The parties also declared their support for relations and co-operation based on the principles of peaceful coexistence as well as multilateralism and democracy in international relations. They upheld the principles of "mutual respect for [each other's] sovereignty and territorial integrity" and called for greater co-operation among developing nations and dialogue between developing and developed nations.

The summit did however lead many analysts to voice concerns over China's 'neo-colonial' involvement in Africa and its indifference to human rights violations in many African countries.

But at the final press conference, China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said Beijing would respect the choices made by African countries and not impose its development mode on the continent, nor would it oppose co-operation between Africa and other countries.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit dismissed suggestions that Beijing was embarking on a colonial adventure, saying relations between China and Africa were based on peace, friendship and equality.

Yesterday, Egypt and China signed a US$ 938 million deal to set up an aluminium plant in the African country.

Between 1995 and 2005, Sino-African trade rose ten-fold, from 4 to 40 billion dollars. Trade in 2005 rose by and additional 35 per cent over the previous year making China Africa's third largest trading partner after the United States and France.

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