China and 48 African countries strengthened their trade and political ties in a two-day summit that ended Sunday in Beijing with pledges from Chinese President Hu Jintao to provide US$5 billion in trade and credit and double development aid by 2009.
President Robert Mugabe was one of 35 African heads of state at the summit. In all, 48 African countries were officially represented. Chinese TV reported that Mr. Jintao described China's expanding relationship with Zimbabwe as an "unshakeable policy" during one-on-one talks with Mr. Mugabe in a summit follow-up Monday.
China’s growing influence in Africa is a matter of great interest and concern to the United States and other Western nations which have been urging Beijing to help keep pressure on African governments on human rights, governance and other issues that frequently crop up in the Zimbabwean context. However, China has taken the stance that it does not want to meddle in the internal affairs of partner countries.
Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Africa Action Executive Director Nii Akuetteh in Washington, who said the presence of so many African heads of states at the summit was impressive, showing that African leaders are serious about turning to China for help building their economies.