President Hu Jintao of China begins a week-long visit to Africa on Monday - his second tour of the continent since becoming leader three years ago.
The visit indicates the importance China is attaching to securing energy and trade deals in the region. In 2004, he went to Algeria, Gabon and Nigeria while now he will start his tour in Morocco, with a return visit to Nigeria before going on to Kenya. Mr Hu comes fresh from meetings in the United States and Saudi Arabia.
He arrives in Africa with a clear message from Beijing that China and Africa have become natural partners. One of them has an expanding economy eager for oil, gas, cotton, cobalt and timber. The other has plentiful natural resources but needs help to exploit them.
Trade and oil
President Hu is the most senior Chinese official to visit Africa this year, but he comes in the wake of a series of other visits by ministers and officials. They have been crisscrossing the continent to set up or sign deals from Egypt and Algeria to South Africa and Zambia. Trade and oil top Mr Hu's agenda:
- In Morocco, he will be meeting King Mohammed VI to sign a series of cooperation deals to enhance trade
- In Nigeria, a $2bn-deal has just been approved under which China's offshore oil corporation will take a 45% stake in an offshore oilfield
- In Kenya, China is a major player in electrifying the country, including rural Kenya, and Chinese companies are expected to start looking for oil there too.
Many Africans welcome the Chinese approach of doing business and not pegging economic activity to political conditions in African countries. Western human rights groups have consequently expressed concern that China is providing a shield against international efforts to persuade corrupt or abusive regimes to reform.
BBCLast Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16