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This would be Li’s maiden state visit to Africa since taking office in 2013.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing that Li would hold talks with Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn, President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan, President of Angola Jose Eduardo dos Santos and President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta.
China’s trade with Africa has seen a huge upsurge from $10 billion in 2000 to an estimated $200 billion in 2013.
Beijing’s new leadership has repeatedly asserted it will support the African continent haul its billion people out of poverty.
China and Kenya signed a series of bilateral cooperation agreements worth $5 billion ranging from finance, environmental protection to renewable energy after the meeting of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Chinese President Xi Jinping in August last year.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, had in July last year presided over the signing of accords between their governments to facilitate $1.1bn in low-interest loans for infrastructure projects in Nigeria.
China has invested in building roads and schools in many parts of Africa over the last decade. Beijing’s “no-strings attached” policy towards aid and massive infrastructure projects has won backing from many African governments.
It’s Africa-engagement, however, has been severely criticized as China is seen to be using the continent as a source of natural resources.
Former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton had urged scrutiny of China’s large investments and business interests in Africa, warning against China’s “new colonialism” in the continent.
Meanwhile, in an interview to CNBC in February this year, South African President Jacob Zuma had said China is unlike former Western colonial powers who still act like Africa’s master.
“The countries that have been dealing with us before, particularly old economies, they’ve dealt with us as former subjects, as former colonial subjects,” Zuma said.
“The Chinese don’t deal with us from that point of view. They deal with us as people that you must do business (with), at an equal level so to speak. It’s not the Chinese only, there are many other countries,” Zuma said. “China has come to do business, not to try to tell you what to do, what not to do. Others do.”
“Part of the reason Africa, as much as it (was) decolonized many years ago, has never developed is because the relationships are not equal,” Zuma said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Premier is also scheduled to visit the headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa on May 5 and will also attend the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa to be held in Abuja, capital of Nigeria.