China's Xi Jinping hails 'sincere friendship' with Africa

DAR ES SALAAM (AFP) - China's new President Xi Jinping hailed the strength of ties with African nations on Monday, March 25, in a keynote speech given on his first trip as head of state to the continent.

Mr Xi, calling Africa a "continent of hope and promise", addressed leaders in Tanzania's economic capital as "my dear friends" and praised Beijing's "sincere friendship" with Africa.

"Africa belongs to the African people," Mr Xi said, speaking in a new conference hall built by China.

"In developing relations with Africa, all countries should respect Africa's dignity and independence," he added. Trade between China and Africa topped more than S$200 billion (S$250 billion) last year, he added.

Mr Xi and his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete signed 16 different trade, cultural and development accords after his arrival in Tanzania on Sunday, including improvements to Tanzania's hospitals and ports, and the building of a Chinese cultural centre.

Tanzania, where Mr Xi arrived from after a visit to Moscow, is the first stop of his three-nation Africa tour that underscores Beijing's growing presence in the resource-rich continent.

Mr Xi, on his first foreign trip since being anointed president 11 days ago, later flies on to Durban in South Africa to join an emerging economies summit.

He wraps up the African tour with a visit to Congo-Brazzaville.

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