Chinese President Xi lands in Tanzania to start Africa tour


Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived for a three-nation Africa tour that will focus on trade between Beijing and the resource-rich continent.


Feng Li

China's new president Xi Jinping arrived in Africa on Sunday for the start of a three-nation tour that will focus on trade between Beijing and the resource-rich continent.

Fresh from his first foreign trip to Russia, Xi will travel to Tanzania, South Africa and Republic of Congo.

Xi was greeted in Tanzania's economic capitol Dar es Salaam by his Tanzanian counterpart, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, where he is set to give a keynote speech on relations with Africa on Monday.

"He will be looking to tone down the feeling that China is just here to exploit resources. I think that is going to be his main job," James Shikwati, director of the Nairobi-based Inter Regional Economic Network think tank, told Reuters.

According to Reuters, Xi is expected to sign a dozen agreements with Tanzania including finalizing plans to co-develop a new port and industrial zone complex, and several loans for communications infrastructure and to the Tanzanian government.

China's state news agency Xinhua reports that China is now Tanzania's largest trading partner and second largest source of investment.

Trade between the two nations reached $2.47 billion last year, up 15.2 percent year on year.

"China-Africa cooperation is comprehensive," Xi said ahead of his trip, adding that Beijing valued "friendly relationships with all African countries, no matter whether they are big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor".

"No matter whether it is rich or poor in resources, China treats it equally and actively carries out pragmatic cooperation that benefits both sides," he said.

China, which has risen to become the world's second-largest economy, sources many of its raw materials from Africa.

A new Chinese diaspora has seen huge numbers of traders and small business operators establish themselves across the continent, which has higher growth rates than Europe or the United States.

Chinese imports from Africa soared 20-fold in a decade to reach $113 billion last year, according to Chinese government statistics, and China became the continent's largest trading partner in 2009.

Highlighting the changing relationship, Beijing hosted a summit of 48 African leaders in 2006.

AFP contributed to this report.