China promises support for African development

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China will announce a package of initiatives to support Africa's development at the forthcoming Johannesburg meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), a senior diplomat said Wednesday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the summit in the South African economic hub on Dec. 4 and 5.

With participation from 36 heads of state, five heads of government, three vice premiers and the chief of the African Union Commission, it will be a "historic event" showing "developing countries' strength of unity," Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming told a press conference.

This will be the second FOCAC summit after the first held in Beijing in 2006.

Xi will deliver a speech at the opening ceremony, co-chair the plenary conference with South African President Jacob Zuma, take part in economic and trade discussions and meet with national leaders.

The promised initiatives will be aimed at accelerating Africa's industrialization and agricultural modernization and its industrial cooperation with China, Zhang said, without giving further details.

Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming told the press conference that an exhibition on equipment manufacturing will be held on the sidelines of the summit, to provide business opportunities in fields including railway, aviation, electric power and telecommunications. In addition, political leaders and entrepreneurs will hold a dialogue.

President Xi will be present at both activities, Zhang said.

Peace-keeping and security are also expected to be discussed at the summit.

Before heading to Johannesburg, Xi will pay a state visit to Zimbabwe from Dec. 1 to 2, and to South Africa from Dec. 2 to 3.

Agreements on economic, trade, investment and cultural ties are likely to be signed during the two visits, according to Zhang.

It will be Xi's second trip to Africa as president. In March 2013, he included three African states -- Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo -- on his first overseas tour, only weeks after taking office.

The upcoming tour shows the high value Xi places on Sino-African relations, according to Zhang.

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