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China Defends Africa Trade and Aid Policy Ahead of Visit by Premier Wen Jiabao


China has defended its way of doing business in Africa ahead of a seven-country visit by Premier Wen Jiabao. Western governments and human rights organizations have criticized Beijing for doing energy and trade deals with no strings attached.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao heads to Africa Saturday to expand economic and trade ties and to look for new sources of energy to fuel the Chinese economy.

China Thursday defended its policy of attaching no strings to aid it gives to African nations.

Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry, says that China-Africa cooperation is conducted under the principles of mutual benefit and mutual development. She says that China's economic and trade cooperation benefits Africa and promotes African economic and social development.

Jiang says China has forgiven billions in African debt, and offered subsidies and eliminated tariffs on some products from Africa's poorest countries.

Critics, however, say China has ignored human rights abuses and problems with government accountability in countries such as Sudan and Angola as it has expanded trade ties with Africa.

Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei recently defended China's trade policy and says Beijing is doing more than just searching for oil.

He says that some people may believe China goes to Africa for the sole purpose of energy, for oil. But he says this view is wrong or one-sided and that China's cooperation with Africa involves a wide range of areas.

He, however, says energy is an important part of China-Africa trade and says oil will definitely be discussed when Premier Wen arrives in Angola, Africa's second-largest supplier of oil.