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Re: China's President visits Gabon

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  • bobutne
    LIBREVILLE : Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in a major oil- producing country, Gabon, the only sub-Saharan stop on a three-nation tour of Africa partly
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 1, 2004
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      LIBREVILLE : Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in a major oil-
      producing country, Gabon, the only sub-Saharan stop on a three-nation
      tour of Africa partly aimed at trading economic cooperation for raw
      materials.

      President Omar Bongo welcomed the Chinese leader, whose plane arrived
      from Egypt at Libreville airport at 3:50 pm (1450 GMT), and Hu and
      his delegation were given full state honours with a 21-gun salute. Hu
      and the veteran central African leader then inspected a military
      guard in a marchpast, but their main business was not scheduled to
      start before Monday morning, official said.

      On Sunday evening, Hu will be the guest of honour at a banquet. His
      visit is the first to Gabon, an equatorial former French colony which
      lies on Africa's Atlantic Coast, by a Chinese president.

      Hu will use his three-day visit here to unveil Beijing's new policy
      towards the whole of the African continent in a speech before
      parliament on Monday, Chinese diplomatic sources said before he
      arrived from Egypt.

      In Monday's keynote speech, Hu will address parliamentarians in
      National Assembly buildings financed and built by China at the end of
      the last century.

      China's ambassador to Gabon, Fan Zhenshui, has announced that Hu's
      policy speech "will be directed at all of Africa".

      "We have entered a new era, the 21st century, and Chinese leaders
      have changed. There will certainly be changes in the broader picture
      of cooperation between China and Africa," Fan said.

      Hu's formal private talks with Bongo are planned for Monday morning,
      to be followed by meetings enlarged to delegations from the two
      countries. Officials have given no details of the agenda for the
      discussions, but oil is expected to be on it. The ambassador said Hu
      had chosen to visit Gabon, which is also densely forested, because of
      its considerable regional influence.

      On Saturday, the French company Total Gabon and China's Unipec, a
      subsidiary of China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. (Sinopec), signed a
      contract under which Gabonese crude will be sold to China for the
      first time.

      "It's a significant annual contract," said the director general of
      Total Gabon, Jacques Marraud des Grottes, who declined to give
      figures. The deal guarantees the annual supply of crude oil by Total
      Gabon to China. "Sinopec is the biggest Chinese refiner, with a
      capacity of 2.4 million barrels per day. It represents more than half
      of the Chinese market in terms of distribution," said Marraud des
      Grottes.

      In the wake of the deal between Unipec and Total Gabon, Gabon's
      Energy Minister Richard Onouviet will be signing a further
      exploration and production accord directly with the Gabonese state
      during Hu's visit, the minister said.

      Oil represents more than half of Gabon's state revenues. Production
      of crude reached a peak of 18.5 million tonnes in 1997 before falling
      to around 11.5 million tonnes in 2002.

      Fan said the main thrust of Chinese policy and cooperation with
      Africa remained "the promotion of economic development in African
      countries".

      Gabon and China have had diplomatic ties since 1974. Chinese
      cooperation with the African nation already includes two timber
      processing companies, an industrial fisheries firm and a Sino-
      Gabonese hospital. China's trade with Gabon was worth 300 million
      dollars (242 million euros) in 2003, a three-fold increase on a
      decade earlier, according to China's economic and commercial advisor
      to Gabon, Zhou Zhaoming.

      In all Chinese trade with Africa is worth more than 10 billion
      dollars (8.1 billion euros), he added. The vast Asian country direly
      needs raw materials for its industry, which the continent is well
      placed to trade for manufactured goods.

      - AFP

      http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/69049/1/.html
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