China dragon on quest to fuel fire

MAPUTO - Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, arrived in Mozambique yesterday on the penultimate stop in his eight-nation African tour.

MAPUTO - Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, arrived in Mozambique yesterday on the penultimate stop in his eight-nation African tour.

Beijing is expected to make a donation to the war-ravaged nation.

Hu was welcomed by his Mozambican counterpart, Armando Guebuza, with whom he will hold talks and sign several agreements on agriculture and infrastructure, according to officials.

Nearly 1000 people thronged the airport to greet Hu, waving Chinese and Mozambican flags.

The Chinese leader is also scheduled to meet with local Chinese businessmen.

Chinese businesses are at the vanguard of reconstruction efforts in Mozambique, which was devastated by a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992.

There are an estimated 1000 Chinese nationals living in Mozambique.

About a third of all road construction projects are being carried out by Chinese firms, which can also take the credit for landmark buildings in the capital such as the new Joaquim Chissano conference centre.

Mozambique has largely untapped reserves of coal and natural gas, the kind of natural resources that China needs to fuel its booming economy.

Mozambican exports to China are mainly wood, sugar and other agricultural products.

As with elsewhere in Africa, the balance of trade is heavily in Beijing's favour with cheap made-in-China clothing items filling Mozambique's stores.

Hu has stressed that Africa has as much to benefit as China.

Trade between Beijing and the continent has tripled in the past five years. - Sapa-AFP

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