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China, Africa see closer cooperation since Beijing Summit
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China and Africa had witnessed closer cooperation in various field since the Beijing Summit in 2006, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official said in an interview with Xinhua.

Xu Jinghu, director-general of the ministry's Department of African Affairs, said progress had been made in carrying out the eight measures for China-Africa practical cooperation, announced by Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

The eight measures included China's pledge to double its assistance to Africa by 2009, provide 3 billion U.S. dollars of preferential loans and 2 billion dollars of preferential buyer's credits, as well as establish a development fund of 5 billion dollars to encourage Chinese firms to invest in Africa. Debt cancellation was another major measure.

During the two years after the Beijing summit, "China has increased its aid to African countries, and made great accomplishment in debt relief and tariff exemption for African countries", Xu said.

She said the China-Africa Development Fund was launched in June 2007 and projects helped by China had been advancing steadily in Africa, including the Africa Union Headquarters Center project, the largest built with Chinese assistance. Construction of the AU headquarters was started in May 2007.

Up to August of this year, China had trained 8,627 African personnel, sent 100 Chinese agriculture experts and 113 young volunteers to work there, Xu said.

Centers for malaria control and prevention, advanced agricultural techniques centers and rural schools were under construction in Africa with the help of China, Xu added.

China-Africa trade has been growing. The volume totaled 73.3 billion dollars in 2007, an increase of 32.2 percent over that of 2006.

With respect to educational cooperation, Xu said the Chinese government granted almost 2,700 scholarships for African student last year, 700 more than the figure of 2006.

"Cooperation in culture, sports, finance, science and technology, civil aviation and tourism has enhanced the development of China-Africa new type of strategic partnership," she added.

The FOCAC was jointly proposed and established by China and more than 40 African countries in 2000.

The Beijing summit of the FOCAC was held in 2006, marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the People's Republic of China and African countries. The summit called for the establishment a "new type of strategic partnership" between China and Africa.

(Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2008)

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