- U.S., China race to finish line on ‘invisibility cloak’
- Obama ‘cavalier’ in hiding foreign aid order, judge rules
- Prince Charles: Muslims are driving Christians from Mideast through persecution
- Gitmo’s first commander: Close the prison down
- Google’s newest photography find: Just wink and shoot
- Detroit’s Heidelberg art project hit by 8 fires in 8 months
- Pa. police pull people over for random DNA tests for feds
- NASA pushing hard to get back into space game
- Harvard student to face federal charges for bomb hoax
- Ronnie Biggs of ‘Great Train Robbery’ fame dies, 84
China pushes its Africa trade ties
Says worker abuse cases rare
BEIJING — China touted its close relations with Africa on Wednesday ahead of talks with the continent’s senior officials, even as some African countries grumble about problems that come from being locked in a tight embrace with the resource-hungry Asian economic power.
Commerce Minister Chen Deming wrote in the China Daily newspaper that total trade between China and Africa hit a record high of $166 billion last year. Mr. Chen said direct Chinese investment in Africa reached $14.7 billion by the end of last year, a 60 percent increase from two years earlier.
His comments came as African officials, including some heads of state and government, arrived in Beijing for two days of talks on expanding cooperation. Also attending the opening ceremony for the meeting was U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who praised China’s relations with Africa in his talks Wednesday with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Close cooperation between China and Africa enabled them to weather the 2008 global crisis, Mr. Chen wrote.
"As a result, the trade and economic cooperation has witnessed faster growth across wider areas in more diversified forms, bringing more tangible benefits to the Chinese and African people," he said.
Lu Shaye, director-general of African affairs for the Foreign Ministry, said Mr. Hu will announce investment and aid pledges for African countries when the meeting opens Thursday, but he did not give any details.
China has emerged as Africa’s main trading partner and a major source of investment for infrastructure development. China had poured billions of dollars into roads and the energy sector across the continent, but its presence has also sparked concerns about labor abuses and corruption.
In May, Zimbabwe’s labor minister said the government was investigating persistent reports of rampant abuse of workers by Chinese employers. In Zambia, complaints about Chinese business practices stretch back years.
Human Rights Watch said in a November report that despite improvements in recent years, safety and labor conditions at Chinese-owned copper mines in Africa are worse than at other foreign-owned mines, and Chinese mine managers often violate government regulations.
Mr. Lu told a news conference Wednesday that such cases were rare incidents. He said the issues are not on the agenda of the two-day meeting.
"Those are isolated cases and do not represent the mainstream of China-Africa cooperation," he said.
Mr. Lu said China wants to further open its borders to African goods by expanding the scope of African products that enjoy zero tariffs to 95 percent from the current 60 percent.
He acknowledged concerns about substandard products being exported by Chinese companies to Africa and said it is not a policy of the government to send low-quality goods to Africa. He said China would step up supervision of its own products and help Africa improve its customs inspection abilities.
Mr. Lu criticized foreign intervention in Africa’s domestic issues, saying that a lot of problems faced by African countries are caused by external factors.
"The international community should support African countries own efforts and reducing intervention is also a way of giving support," he said.
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Half of America strips religion from Christmas
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- We told you so: Conservatives foresaw polygamy ruling
- EDITORIAL: Al Gore, soothsayer
- Obama mocks Putin, picks gay athletes for Sochi delegation
- Top Democrats reject court ruling over NSA spying on Americans
- Army to cut up to 4,000 captains and majors
- HURT: D.C. gets the vapors, calls sequester too much
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
An objective, analysis-based perspective of D.C. sports as seen through the eyes of lifelong D.C. sports enthusiast, John Heibel.
Human interest stories to feed interest, satisfy curiosity and see outside the box.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
In a world that is increasingly complex, we need to seek greater awareness of the blending of cultures and America's changing role in a global community.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow