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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 November 2006, 08:17 GMT
In pictures: China-Africa summit

A woman with an umbrella walks past a billboard in Beijing announcing the African summit

Beijing is plastered with billboards announcing the China-Africa summit taking place this weekend to highlight the huge and growing relationship with the continent.

A Chinese military band conductor rehearses at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China

The summit, called the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation, began on Friday and is being attended by the heads of state and government officials from nearly 50 African nations.

Chinese President Hu Jintao delivers his address as he opens the summit

China is pairing trade deals with aid, announcing that it will double aid to the continent, offer preferential loans and increase export credits.

Construction workers sit under a billboard promoting the upcoming China-Africa summit in Beijing

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said that poverty has replaced colonialism as Africa's greatest challenge.

A woman holding her shopping walks past a billboard announcing the African summit

Beijing has dubbed 2006 "China's Year of Africa" because of its growing push into the world's poorest continent, but questions are being asked about who really benefits.

Chinese woman stand in front of a billboard which promotes the upcoming China-Africa summit meeting, outside a hotel in Beijing

It is expected that the Asian superpower will be projecting soft power and seeking hard deals as it hosts the dozens of African leaders in a move to cement their deepening ties.

The summit gets underway in Beijing's Great Hall of People

Beijing has been busy wooing Africa in recent years. Trade between the two sides is expected to exceed 27bn this year but the Chinese presence has also drawn criticism.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (R) chats with Chinese Education Minister Zhou Ji (L) during a welcome ceremony at Beijing airport

The US and the European Union say that China is dealing with what it calls the repressive regimes of Angola and Sudan, ignoring the wishes of the international community.

Construction workers walk past a boarded-up construction site billboard in Beijing

China has been criticised for ignoring human rights and failing to meet environmental standards. However, increasingly reliant on Africa's resources, Beijing defends its actions.

A Chinese man walks past a billboard which promotes the upcoming China-Africa summit meeting on a street in Beijing

Trade between the world's fastest-growing economy and the 49 African countries it has diplomatic relations with, increased tenfold from 2bn to nearly 20bn over the past 10 years.

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