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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
China defends its role in Africa
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (R) shakes hands with Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana.
China says it is among Africa's best friends
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has rejected criticism that his country is only interested in Africa because of its huge wealth of raw materials.

He told a meeting of the African Development Bank in Shanghai that China was committed to helping the continent develop socially and economically.

He also called on rich nations to do more to assist Africa, by helping with aid, trade and debt relief.

This is the first time the ADB's annual meeting has been held in Asia.

It is a sign of China's growing importance for the continent, say analysts.

'Reduce debt'

"We are truly sincere in helping Africa speed up economic and social development for the benefit of the African people and its nations," Wen Jiabao said.

This is an implicit rejection of criticism that China is only interested in Africa because of its resources, the BBC's Quentin Somerville in Shanghai says.

"Africa needs to rely on itself to sustain development but international support and systems are also indispensable," Mr Wen told delegates at the start of the two-day meeting.

"We call on the international community to deliver on aid pledges to Africa and reduce and cancel African debt."

Mr Wen also called for increased market access and technology transfers.

No strings

China gets about a third of its oil from African countries, as well as other natural resources, which have helped fuel the country's dramatic economic transformation.

More than 700 Chinese companies are active in Africa. China's trade with the continent has quadrupled in the past six years to $55bn (28bn).

Beijing has already written off almost $1.5bn in debt to Africa and says it will write off a similar amount again.

However, it has been criticised for having a no-strings lending policy in Africa, which critics say supports repressive regimes and hinders good governance on the continent.

China was recently accused of breaching a UN embargo by continuing to supply arms to Sudan - a key supplier of its oil - to the troubled region of Darfur.

Although it rejected the claims, Beijing has since appointed a special envoy to focus on the Darfur situation.

China appoints envoy for Darfur
10 May 07 |  Africa
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22 Jun 06 |  Africa
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06 Nov 06 |  Business

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