Chinese leader to make a stopover in South Africa

Thomas McLachlan

Thomas McLachlan

Chinese President Hu Jintao will visit South Africa next month as part of his third trip to Africa in four years, South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said on Wednesday.

Hu's visit is part of a seven-nation African tour and his team will include the Chinese trade and foreign ministers, Pahad said in Pretoria.

"It is clear from the China-Africa summit hosted by Beijing in November that the relationship between Africa and China has entered a new phase," Pahad said.

During the summit, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said China intended to more than double trade with Africa to $100billion a year by 2010.

Hu and Wen each made separate trips to Africa last year, returning home with a slew of energy and other business deals.

Meanwhile, Harare's Herald newspaper reported yesterday China would help Zimbabwe overcome its economic woes, specifically the result of Western sanctions.

The paper said the undertaking was given by the Chinese ambassador Yuan Nansheng when he paid Acting President Joice Mujuru a courtesy call.

"I told the vice-president that the Chinese government would do its best to help the Zimbabwean government and the Zimbabwean people overcome any difficulties," Yuan said.

"We are sure that in the near future Zimbabwe's economy will improve. Since independence, the Zimbabwean people, President Mugabe and Zanu-PF have achieved a lot," Yuan said.

The ambassador hailed the strong relations between Harare and Beijing, saying ties had gone from strength-to-strength. With Sapa-AFP