06/19/2006, 00.00
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Wen Jiabao'as Africa tour continues in Ghana

Wen highlights collaboration and friendship with Egypt and Ghana and describes China as a friend of Africa. Experts point out though that China is willing to do business with and sell weapons to dictatorial regimes.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – After a two-day stop in Egypt, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's tour of Africa moved on today to Ghana where he is scheduled to attend a ceremony for the completion of a road built with technical assistance and funding provided by the Chinese government.

On his arrival last night, Wen met Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufuor. In a joint statement the two leaders stressed the friendship that has bound their two countries for the past half a century.

After yesterday meeting Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian president, Wen stressed that China's Africa policy was based on "mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and non-interference in others' internal affairs".

In Egypt he signed trade agreements on oil and natural gas and telecommunications. In Ghana he committed China to a low-interest loan of US$ 66m for telecommunications and other projects.

Experts have noted that Africa supplies nearly a third of China's oil needs as well as other raw materials and that it has become an increasingly important market for Chinese goods, generally cheaper than those of other countries.

The policy of "non interference" in the internal affairs of African countries ha meant however, according to the experts, that Beijing is unconcerned that money is going to local political elites and that it is trading with regimes boycotted by international community for their gross violations of individual and collective rights like Sudan and Zimbabwe.

For instance, China has threatened to use its veto power to stop sanctions against Sudan over the Darfur genocide. It has also resisted efforts by the United Nations to investigate and punish Mugabe for his "clean-up campaign" last year in which police destroyed slums and markets, depriving 700,000 Zimbabweans of their homes and jobs. Instead, Beijing has sold jet fighters, military vehicles and guns to Zimbabwe, Sudan and other repressive governments.

"Wherever there are resources, the Chinese are going to go there," said Peter Takirambudde, head of the Africa division for Human Rights Watch. "They see no evil. They hear no evil. That's very bad for Africans."

In the next leg of his tour, Wen is scheduled to visit the Republic of Congo, Angola, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

The trip, coming in the wake of that of Chinese President Hu Jintao in other African states, is being done in preparation of a Sino-African summit due in Beijing in November, during which China will remit debts, increase economic and technical assistance as well investment by Chinese enterprises, said Wen. (PB)

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