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China

China's Xi Jinping in Tanzania for African diplomatic tour

China’s new President Xi Jinping has pledged to strengthen his nation’s ties with African nations during a key note speech in Tanzania on his first state trip to the continent. China is Africa’s largest trading partner.

President Xi Jinping on Monday addressed leaders in Tanzania and spoke of Beijing's "sincere friendship" with Africa.

With China as Africa's largest trading partner since 2009, Xi hailed the resource-rich continent as one of "hope and promise."

"Africa belongs to the African people," Xi said, "In developing relations with Africa, all countries should respect Africa's dignity and independence."

Xi, who arrived in Tanzania from Moscow on Sunday, also noted that China's direct investment in the continent was on the rise. Annual trade between China and Africa reached about $200 billion (154 billion euros) in 2012. Chinese imports from Africa have soared 20-fold in a decade, according to Chinese government statistics.

Upon arriving in the country Xi and his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete signed 16 agreements to increase cooperation in areas including agriculture, energy and infrastructure. China is the second-largest foreign investor in Tanzania, with ventures in agriculture, coal, and iron ore.

"We have no doubt that the people of China will continue to work with the people of Africa," Kikwete said adding that Beijing has been a "dependable supporter and an ally of African countries and other Third World countries."

China connects with Africa

Tanzania is Xi's first stop on a three-nation African tour. Almost a third of China's trade with Africa is with South Africa, where Xi is headed next, where he is to meet with President Jacob Zuma.

While in South Africa, Xi is to attend a BRICS summit of emerging economies with leaders from Russia, India and Brazil.

The group is expected to launch a new bank as an alternative to Western institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Xi, who took office on March 14, is to wrap up his African trip in the Republic of Congo, one of the world's the least developed countries.

hc/pfd (AFP, dpa)