China woos African trade

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will visit four African nations next week in what has become a New Year ritual amid China's courtship of the continent, the government said yesterday.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will visit four African nations next week in what has become a New Year ritual amid China's courtship of the continent, the government said yesterday.

Yang will visit South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Ethiopia from January 7 to 11, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

No reason for the trip was given, but Beijing has reached out aggressively to oil-rich African nations in recent years as a booming China's energy needs have skyrocketed.

That courtship has drawn some criticism in the West because of Beijing's close links with regimes in countries such as Sudan and Zimbabwe and their poor human rights records.

President Hu Jintao visited several African nations early last year, while Yang's predecessor Li Zhaoxing also made New Year trips in 2006 and last year.

The trips have typically resulted in China landing big oil and gas deals, as well as a strengthening of ties in other areas of trade.

Seemingly, many African nations have welcomed China's no-strings-attached economic policies. - Sapa-AFP

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