China defends motives

The prime minister made the denial as he began his tour in Africa with the first stop in Cairo, Egypt.

He rejected accusations that China was seeking to become a counterbalance to the United States by boosting ties with Africa.

He said his booming economy was in need of Africa’s natural resources.

“Our efforts to develop relations with countries in Africa and Latin America . . . are not targeted at any third country,” Wen said at a Press conference in Cairo before flying to Ghana this week.

“Those attempts and efforts to develop relations are not directed at entering into any alliance and will not compromise the interests of any other countries. I’m confident that the US government also recognises this,” he said.

The Chinese leader, who arrived in Egypt on a seven African nations tour, was responding to suggestions that Beijing was seeking to emancipate its foreign policy from Washington by strengthening ties with developing countries.

When asked about the importance that China intended to give the issue of human rights in its Africa policy, Wen explained the principle of non-interference.

“Our policy is consistent. We follow the principle of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and non-interference in other’s internal affairs,” he said.

“We believe that the peoples of different regions and countries, including those on the African continent, have the right and also the capability to properly handle their own issues,” he said.

He went on to defend China’s record in Africa over the past 50 years and stressed that Chinese investments are an opportunity for the continent to achieve a higher level of development.

“China places high value on developing economic and trading ties with Africa, and we also believe . . . there are vast potentials worth to tap in furthering the business ties between China and Africa,” Wen said.

China’s trade with Africa increased fortyfold from 1990 to 2004, with Beijing now getting 15 percent of its oil from Angola and Sudan. Total trade between the two sides neared $40 billion in 2005.

“We will continue to encourage Chinese companies to come to Africa to cooperate with their African counterparts.

“The purpose of such China-Africa cooperation is to help our African friends to enhance their capacity to self-development,” he said.

Wen also said that in the past 50 years, China had given US$5.5 billion in assistance to Africa, sent 16 000 health workers to 43 different countries on the continent and reduced or canceled the debt of 31 nations.

Wen met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and signed 11 trade and business cooperation deals with Egypt on Saturday after meeting Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif. ‘ AFP.

June 2006
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