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Beijing Ready for African Arrivals
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Beijing's hotel managers, market businesses and tour guides have been busy brushing up on their language skills in preparation for the arrival of thousands of African guests.

The visitors are not ordinary tourists but heads of state and high-ranking officials from 48 African countries who are attending the Beijing Summit and third Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation which gets underway on November 1.

"This is expected to be the largest summit ever staged in the country since 1949," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a regular news briefing Tuesday. "It's also a milestone marking China-Africa economic co-operation and cultural exchanges."

Over 3,000 people from Africa will attend the event, say the foreign ministry. At least 20 five-star hotels in the Chinese capital will host state leaders and delegates, said one of the organizers.

The official, who declined to be named, refusing to reveal detailed arrangements for the guests said, "We'll try our best to make sure our African friends have a good stay in Beijing during the summit by offering them satisfactory accommodation, delicious food, security and convenience."

Beijing Television reported that hotels had made special preparations for their presidential suites. Chefs at hotel restaurants will show off their skills in producing both Chinese and African cuisine.

Banners carrying words of welcome adorn major city streets highlighting the summit's theme of "friendship, peace, development and co-operation."

Flowerbeds have been arranged in Tian'anmen Square to the west of which is the Great Hall of the People where the summit is being held. Usually this level of decoration is reserved for National Day on October 1.

Beijing residents are busy preparing. A neighborhood committee in Dongcheng District last week invited two African students studying at the Beijing Institute of Technology to teach local residents African etiquette. "We want to show our best manners to welcome our friends from afar," said Wang Yixian, a resident in Hepingli neighborhood.

To help ease transport concerns for African leaders and government officials the Beijing Benz-Daimler Chrysler Automotive Co. Ltd have provided 110 official cars.  They've also assisted train the drivers.

The city will also implement temporary traffic measures on major roads leading to the airport, conference venue and hotels during the summit. Around 80 percent of government cars will be banned from the streets.

Beijing authorities have also mobilized 810,000 volunteers from all walks of life to patrol residential communities and streets as an extra security measure, according to reports by the Xinhua News Agency.

(China Daily November 1, 2006)

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