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China Trains More than 11,000 African Professionals
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More than 11,000 professionals from Africa have received training in China since 2004, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) announced on Thursday.

China received 2,963 African trainees in 2004, and last year the number surged to 4,887 studying trade, agriculture, forestry, fishery, public health care, telecommunications, education and environmental protection.

More than 3,900 African professionals are studying in China this year.

The statistics were released ahead of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, the highest-level and largest meeting of Chinese and African leaders since the 1950s, from November 3 to 5.

The FOCAC is a mechanism for collective dialogue and cooperation to cope with new challenges and facilitate common development.

About 30 African heads of state or government and their Chinese counterparts will attend, aiming to outline future cooperation after 50 years of friendship.

"China and African countries are developing and lots of experiences China have obtained during its social and economic construction can be shared with the African nations," said Li Yuanyuan, an Africa expert with the prestigious Peking University.

"African technicians, business managers and specialists could improve their skills and increase their understanding of China through the training program," he said.

China's efforts to boost bilateral cooperation in human resources with African countries came after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao promised to help African countries train 10,000 professionals at the end of 2003 when he attended the FOCAC's 2nd ministerial conference in Addis Ababa.

"The training program also helps create a platform for the Chinese enterprises to develop their business in Africa", Li said.

China-Africa economic ties have developed rapidly in recent years. MOC statistics show that two-way trade volume has rocketed from US$4 billion in 1995 to almost US$40 billion in 2005.

Chinese direct investment in Africa has reached US$1.18 billion, with more than 800 Chinese enterprises having operations on the continent.

With China's gradual increase of imports from Africa, bilateral economic ties have progressed to a new level, said Li, predicting that the ties will continue to expand.

According to a MOC official who preferred to remain anonymous, China will continue to carry out its training program for African professionals under the FOCAC mechanism.

"We will further implement the new approaches President Hu Jintao announced on the UN summit on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations last year", the official said, vowing to expand fields and create new forms to step up cooperation.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of diplomatic relationships between the People's Republic of China and several of the African countries.

China released its first African policy paper earlier this year, putting forward its proposals for all-round cooperation with Africa in various fields in the coming years.

(Xinhua News Agency October 20, 2006)

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