Tue, Feb 17, 2009 - Page 6 News List

PRC, Tanzania sign deals

LAVISH GIFT Analysts say the aid is a deliberate message that Beijing’s interest in Africa is not limited to a few countries that have abundant mining and oil reserves

AGENCIES , DAR ES SALAAM

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) took a 150 million yuan (US$21.95 million) aid gift to Tanzania on Sunday on the penultimate leg of a tour intended to cement China’s ties with Africa despite the global slowdown.

“The traditional friendship between China and Tanzania ... can be viewed as an exemplary relationship of sincerity, solidarity and cooperation between China and an African country, and for that matter between two developing countries,” Hu said.

Hu, who has been to Mali and Senegal, witnessed the signing of the aid deals — 120 million yuan for mainland Tanzania and 30 million yuan for the Zanzibar islands — with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.

“It has been a great visit,” said Kikwete, hailing the friendly ties between the two countries.

“China and Tanzania share a common position on many issues, particularly on global peace and development issues, he said.

“We all want an early conclusion of the Doha Round of the WTO talks, which we regard as beneficial to most developing countries,” he added, referring to the WTO talks toward a new global free trade pact.

“At this period of global financial crisis Tanzania and many other developing countries look at China as a partner in solving our problems. It is our hope that China will be on our side,” he said.

Hu said that China had been “impressed by Tanzania’s role in the search for peace and conflict resolution in neighboring countries and throughout Africa,” particularly during Kikwete’s time as chairman of the African Union.

“China will continue working closely with Tanzania on many areas,” he said.

Hu ends his trip on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius in a tour of nations that rank outside Africa’s economic and resource heavyweights.

Analysts say it is a deliberate message that Beijing, whose trade with Africa has increased tenfold this decade to US$107 billion last year, wants to engage right across the continent, even with smaller nations and in sectors beyond oil and mining.

The visit is also meant to reassure Africa that China will not ditch its new allies at a time of global economic slump.

Zanzibar officials said their portion of the aid announced on Sunday would be for IT and television services.

Chinese and Tanzanian officials also signed a memorandum of understanding with China Exim Bank on providing loans for unspecified projects, according to details provided by Tanzania’s State House.

At least 40 Chinese firms invest in Tanzania. In 2007, trade between the two countries rose 48 percent on the previous year to US$800 million.

In the 1970s, China helped build the Tanzania-Zambia railway (Tazara). It recently built a US$40 million, 60,000-seat national sports stadium in Dar es Salaam, which Hu handed over officially to Tanzania on Sunday.

“We gather in this brand new stadium to celebrate its completion. This stadium is the largest Chinese project after the Tazara railway,” Hu said at a ceremony accompanied by acrobats and traditional dancers.

Tanzania is among Africa’s largest aid recipients from China and the two countries have had diplomatic ties since the 1960s. Last year, Tanzania was the only country in Africa to host the Olympic torch relay before the Beijing Games.

Hu was to give a keynote speech on China-Africa relations yesterday before heading to Mauritius, where China has extended more than 800 million yuan in preferential loans since the island formalized diplomatic ties with Beijing in 1972 against the advice of Western powers.

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