CHINA / National

Visit ushers in new era for relations
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-05-01 07:08

President Hu Jintao's state visit to Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya was of great significance to the development of relations between China and the four nations, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said in Nairobi on Saturday.

Hu's Arab-African tour, following a visit to the United States, has consolidated traditional friendship, enhanced mutual trust and expanded co-operation, Li added.

President Hu Jintao returned to Beijing yesterday morning following a 12-day visit.

"The visit ushered in a new era in the development of mutually beneficial relations between China and Arab, African and developing countries," Li said.

On Saturday, the last day of his African tour, Hu could not resist the rhythm of a drum beat and walked off the red carpet at Nairobi's airport to beat a skin drum made for traditional dancers.

A smiling Hu squatted beside a surprised Kenyan musician to demonstrate his drumming skills, catching onlookers off guard with a break in official protocol.

"It is our wish that your country will continue to use its growing economic strength to support developing countries," Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki said during a state banquet on Friday.

Hu said China was stepping up plans to assist developing countries, by providing such things as zero-tariffs on some exports, more aid, debt reduction and exemptions for heavily-indebted poor nations.

China signed 28 accords with the four countries, which covered politics, security, trade, energy, education, health, culture and tourism.

Chinese delegation spokesman Liu Jianchao said the trip had been a success, and there was more to it than snapping up new energy sources to feed China's booming economy.

"This trip is not only energy-orientated, it's also aimed at promoting political relations with China," he told reporters on Friday.

"They see China as a good opportunity for furthering their own interests."

During the tour, Hu also made important speeches on how to boost China's links with Arab and African nations under current situations, and met entrepreneurs, students and public representatives.

Hu highlighted a new type of strategic partnership between China and Arab and African countries, featuring mutual political trust, mutual economic benefit and mutual support in world affairs.

Hu said as China and the four nations are all developing countries, they have common interests in safeguarding world peace, boosting common prosperity and improving their people's living standards.

These opinions were echoed by leaders of the four countries.

Hu put forward a series of proposals, including extending bilateral co-operation from trade to greater co-operation in investment and technology.

Saudi business communities, in particular, expressed their desire to establish a strategic and global economic partnership with China.

Some world media outlets expressed the belief that co-operation between China and the four nations would bring tremendous opportunities for the economic development of the Middle East and African countries.

Xinhua - Agencies

(China Daily 05/01/2006 page1)