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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 June 2006, 05:33 GMT 06:33 UK
China envoy defends Africa policy
By Bridget Kendall
BBC diplomatic correspondent

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) is welcomed by his Nigerian counterpart Olusegun Obasanjo in April 2006
President Hu Jintao has visited Africa twice in three years
A top Chinese diplomat has vigorously defended his country's growing economic involvement in Africa, including close trade links with Zimbabwe and Sudan.

The charge d'affaires at China's South Africa embassy, Zhou Yuxiao, said China was just protecting its own interests.

Its policy of non-interference in the affairs of others has nothing to do with its need to import oil, he added.

China's quiet pursuit of raw materials in Africa in return for cheap Chinese goods has caused considerable concern.

But in a robust defence of his country's policy, the charge d'affaires told the BBC that China had nothing to apologise for.

Yes, it was buying up African oil, he said, but importing no more globally than either the United States or Japan and he denied that China was undermining international attempts to put pressure on Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Beijing, he said, was only protecting its own interests and did not believe economic embargoes and disengagement were necessarily the best way to promote good governance.

Those words may have significance beyond Africa.

Not only has China fiercely resisted UN sanctions against Sudan for its Darfur policy, it has also been opposed to using the threat of sanctions against Iran and, judging by these comments, that is not about to change.

The interview with Zhou Yuxiao is broadcast in BBC Radio Four's World This Weekend programme at 1200 GMT

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