By Staff Reporter WINDHOEK China is expected to announce important proposals and initiatives on strengthening its relations with Africa at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba is attending the summit, which takes place on November 4 and 5. Chinese State Councillor and former Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan says a key focus of the summit will be to upgrade cooperation and to inject new vigour into the relationship between China and Africa. In a recent interview with Xinhua news agency he said the initiatives China would announce include specific measures to help African countries speed up their development. According to Tang, the summit will be used to review the cooperation between China and Africa in the past 50 years, and the progress made since FOCAC’s establishment six years ago. The summit will further reaffirm plans to forge a new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa, map out the future for sustained bilateral cooperation and exchange views on major regional and international issues. “I am convinced a successful summit will enhance the friendship between Chinese and African leaders and promote the comprehensive growth of China-Africa friendship,” he said. Tang expressed the view that economic cooperation and trade between China and Africa are mutually beneficial. China’s development has created a growing export market for Africa and, with the rapid increase in China’s foreign trade, its imports from Africa have also increased. According to Tang, China-Africa trade volume reached US$39.8 billion in 2005. This includes US$21.1 billion in imports from Africa, which exceeds China’s exports to Africa. He further said China’s government has encouraged established and reputable Chinese companies to make diversified investments in Africa. Preliminary statistics showed that China’s total investment in Africa has reached US$6.27 billion. The country has launched over 800 non-financial investment projects in 49 African countries, covering trade, manufacturing, processing, resource development, communications and agriculture. Turning to development assistance, Tang said over 720 projects have been completed in 49 African countries with Chinese assistance, while 58 projects were launched in 26 African countries with Chinese preferential loans. China has exempted 10.9 billion Yuan of debt held by highly-indebted poor countries and least-developed countries in Africa. Tang further said China extends zero-tariff treatment to imports from 28 least-developed African countries. He also made what appears to be a reference to the recent quotas South Africa imposed on textile imports from China. “China appreciates the concern of some African countries about trade deficits and textiles, and is taking measures together with the countries concerned to resolve them,” he stated.