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China Offers $60 Billion in Loans, Aid to Africa


South African President Jacob Zuma (R) shakes hand with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping after their joint media conference at Union Building Pretoria, South Africa, Dec. 2, 2015.

China is offering $60 billion in loans and aid to Africa to spur development, in the latest sign of Beijing's deepening ties to the continent.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the package Friday at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Johannesburg.

Xi also pledged non-interference in regional politics, saying "China strongly believes Africa belongs to the African people and African problems should be handled by the African people."

Western governments have accused China of ignoring wars and human rights abuses in Africa as it pursues trade and the continent's raw materials.

Current African Union Chairman and Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe hailed the Chinese president, saying he is doing what Africa had expected its former colonizers to do.

Mugabe's government signed a series of economic accords with China when Xi visited Zimbabwe on Tuesday.

President Xi said China's package for Africa includes $5 billion in zero-interest loans and $35 billion in preferential financing, export credit loans and concessional loans. He said China aims to develop infrastructure, improve agriculture, and reduce poverty on the continent.

In recent years, China has become Africa's largest trading partner, with a two-way flow exceeding $220 billion in 2014.

When the Chinese economy slowed this year, some African countries were hit hard by declining demand for commodities and reduced Chinese investment.