Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hu pledges closer political, economic links with Africa

Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete met yesterday to boost the traditional friendship between China and Tanzania.

``Despite changes in the international arena, China-Tanzania ties have developed in a sound and smooth way since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1964,`` Hu told Kikwete.

``It can be viewed as an exemplary relationship of sincerity, solidarity and cooperation between China and an African country and between two developing countries,`` he said.

Kikwete said Tanzania and China enjoy a special relationship, which was initiated by the previous leaderships of both nations, adding that Tanzania would carry forward the traditional relationship and foster solidarity with China.

Hu, making his first state visit to Tanzania, was accorded a 21-gun salute before inspecting a Tanzania guard of honour at the welcoming ceremony yesterday morning at the Karimjee Hall, which was thronged by a large number of Tanzanians who greeted the Chinese leader by playing drums and trumpets, clapping their hands and waving flags.

Major streets of Dar es Salaam were also festooned with the national flags of both countries and banners that read ``Welcome President Hu`` and ``Long Live China-Tanzania Friendship.`` Some local people wore costumes and shirts featuring Hu`s pictures.

In the hour-long talk with Kikwete at State House, Hu said the relations between China and Tanzania had demonstrated a new vitality in recent years, citing frequent high-level visits, stronger political trust and cooperation in trade and culture.

He appreciated Tanzania`s efforts to ensure the smooth relay of the Olympic torch in Dar es Salaam last year as well as its adherence to the ``one-China`` policy.

Hu suggested that both countries enhance political exchange, deepen political trust and step up cooperation in trade, culture, education and public health.

He called for an early implementation of the agreed cooperative programmes and the measures announced at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

This is Hu`s second African tour since the landmark China-Africa summit in November 2006, when he announced eight measures to promote China`s ties with Africa, including massive tariff cuts and debt exemptions for scores of African countries, and doubling of aid to Africa over a three-year period.

The Chinese leader said his government would invite young Tanzanians to visit China and offer more scholarships to the eastern African country.

In response, President Kikwete said his country appreciates the generous assistance and support offered by China for a long time, affirming commitment that Tanzania would like to work with China to cement cooperation in trade, investment, finance, agriculture, education, public health and infrastructure.

He also reaffirmed that Tanzania would, as always, stick to the one-China policy and firmly support China`s efforts to ensure its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On the global financial crisis, Hu said China would like to enhance communication and coordination with Tanzania and other African countries with a view to minimize the impact of the crisis.

``China will keep its promise, not reduce aid to Africa and urge the international community to honour their aid commitment to the continent,`` he said.

China would take a comprehensive, balanced, progressive and pragmatic approach to reform the international financial system, including increasing African and developing countries` representation and voice in this reform, Hu added.

Kikwete said the global financial crisis and economic downturn were taking a toll on his country.
Noting Tanzania was taking action to tackle the difficulties, Kikwete called for joint action with China to address the effects of the downturn.

Hu said China would like to work with the international community to play a constructive role in ensuring Africa\'s peace and security.

Four cooperation agreements were signed after the talks between the two leaders.

Later yesterday, Hu met with President Amani Abeid Karume of Zanzibar, where the Chinese leader said ties with Zanzibar constituted an important part of China-Tanzania relations.

The Chinese president lauded Zanzibar's economic and social progress, saying that China would continue to provide assistance to the region.

China will encourage businesses with strong capacities to invest in Zanzibar, and support efforts by the Zanzibar government to promote economic and social development and improve the livelihood of its people, he said.

Karume said Zanzibar values its relations with China and appreciates its assistance in public health, education and culture.

Inspired by China`s achievements, Zanzibar would like to learn from China and boost bilateral pragmatic cooperation in the economy, trade, tourism and infrastructure, Karume said.

Yesterday afternoon, Hu attended the completion ceremony of the Main National Stadium and visited cemetery for Chinese experts.

Dar es Salaam is the fourth stop on Hu's weeklong trip. He arrived here on Saturday night from the Senegalese capital of Dakar, after concluding a visit to that country.

The five-nation tour, Hu's first overseas trip in 2009, is described as ``a journey of friendship and cooperation.`` Earlier, Hu visited Saudi Arabia and Mali.

He will also visit Mauritius before flying back home Tuesday.