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New Partnership Needed in New Era
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Visiting President Hu Jintao yesterday called for more innovative efforts to intensify partnership with Africa after China and Nigeria signed a slew of agreements, including one awarding China four oil-drilling licenses in the African country.


Hu said the partnership should cover politics, the economy, security and international affairs; and reiterated that China's growth is "not a threat" to others.


"On the contrary, it will bring more development opportunities to the world."


Addressing a joint session of Nigeria's National Assembly, Hu said: "China will continue to work with Africa to widen China-Africa cooperation and inject new vitality into it."


Hu made the remarks on the second day of a two-day visit to the most populous country in the African continent at the invitation of its President Olusegun Obasanjo.


Describing African nations as "good friends, good partners and good brothers" of China, Hu said more efforts are needed to build "a new type of strategic partnership in the new era."


He proposed to boost mutual trust in politics through high-level exchanges, expand win-win partnerships with increased investment and security cooperation as well as coordination in international affairs.


"China and Africa enjoy great complementarities in their economies," he said. "The cooperation based on mutual benefit suits the interests of both sides."


The rich resources in Africa match China's need for raw materials for sustained economic growth while African countries want to accumulate capital by developing the resources and strengthen the local economies.


Trade between China and African countries is estimated to be US$40 billion last year, according to Foreign Ministry statistics. Some 750 Chinese enterprises have invested a total of US$1 billion in the continent.


Hu said a joint declaration laying out specific measures to intensify Sino-African cooperation would be issued at the China-Africa Cooperation Forum summit to be held in Beijing in November.


Nigeria's Minister of State for Petroleum Edmund Daukoru said yesterday that the Sino-Nigerian agreement "is a formalization of the four oil block contracts, which include the maintenance and management of the Kaduna refinery and setting up a power generation station."


In exchange, China will grant Nigeria 40 million yuan (US$5 million) for infrastructure construction and 5 million yuan (US$624,000) for anti-malaria drugs, training for Nigerians to control malaria and bird flu, and cooperation in technology, according to other agreements signed the same day.


Last week, China's top offshore oil and gas producer, China National Offshore Oil Co Ltd, completed a deal to buy a stake in a Nigerian oil-mining license its biggest overseas acquisition.


"The main purpose of my visit is to deepen the Chinese-Nigerian relationship and strengthen the partnership both politically and economically," Hu said at the signing ceremony with Obasanjo.


Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and the world's sixth-biggest exporter.


During talks between the two leaders before the signing, Hu proposed to expand partnerships in areas such as agriculture, energy, electricity, infrastructure construction, telecommunications and satellite technology.


Obasanjo said Nigeria welcomes more investments from China; and spoke highly of Beijing's policy of establishing industry in his country rather than the wholesale export of finished products.


Analysts said the oil deal was a good fit for both countries.


"China is an emerging world economy; she needs oil," former Nigerian Foreign Minister Bolaji Akinyemi said. "Nigeria needs as much investment as possible and to diversify the sources of its income."


Sino-Nigerian trade volume was US$2.83 billion last year, up 29.6 percent from 2004, according to Foreign Ministry statistics.


China also has major investments in Nigeria's fast-growing telecom industry and has found a ready market for textiles and other finished goods.


"Stronger ties between China and Nigeria are long overdue," said Wang Yusheng, former Chinese ambassador to Nigeria. "Many Chinese do business there and contribute a lot to the regional development."


Hu is scheduled to arrive in Kenya today on a state visit, the last stop of his five-nation tour, which has also taken him to the United States, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.


(China Daily April 28, 2006)


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