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Xi calls for increased investment in Senegal

Updated: 2014-02-21 01:56
By Zhou Wa and Zhao Yinan ( China Daily)

President of West African nation asks China for support during Beijing visit

President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that more Chinese companies should invest in Senegal to help with the West African nation's economic development.

He made the comments as Senegalese President Macky Sall visited Beijing for talks on tightening cooperation between the two countries.

The two leaders vowed to enhance cooperation in infrastructure construction, energy, and tourism, as Senegal aims to become an emerging economy by 2017. The country has set its sights on an annual economic growth rate of 7 to 8 percent.

In his first meeting with an African leader in 2014, Xi also said that China-Africa trade totaled more than $200 billion in 2013, and Chinese direct investment in Africa grew 44 percent.

The number has doubled from $100 billion in 2008.

"That all stands witness to the endlessly renewed vitality of the Sino-African friendship, to the scale of the potential for cooperation and the excellent outlook for a new kind of Sino-African strategic partnership," Xi told Sall.

Xi suggested China and Senegal should enhance their cooperation in fields including economics and trade, infrastructure construction, crop cultivation and manufacturing, promising to increase China's imports of Senegalese agricultural products.

"Senegal attaches strategic importance to China and has high expectations for bilateral cooperation. Senegal hopes to deepen political trust with China," Sall said.

African countries are implementing a plan to develop new cooperative partnerships, trying to establish regional stability. They are pushing for improved connectivity with the outside world and pursuing further economic growth, and they hope to learn from China's experience of development, Sall said.

Having taken office in March 2013, Sall is the first African leader to be invited to China by Xi this year.

He visited China as Senegal's prime minister in 2006, and he said he hoped to consolidate the existing "excellent" relationship through his visit this time.

"Sall's China visit has both political and economic meaning," said He Wenping, a researcher on African studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

When Senegal decided to resume diplomatic relations with China in 2005, it had already recognized China's importance to its strategic development, she said. As a new president, Sall needs to maintain his country's ties with China and Beijing's new leadership.

"African countries have experienced rapid development in recent years, and Senegal hopes to boost its own economic growth through cooperation with China, so that it can play a leading role in economic growth in the region," He said.

In return, better economic development will increase its political influence over the region, she added.

In an interview before his China visit, Sall said cooperation with more companies from China is vital for job creation and infrastructure development.

Since the resumption of diplomatic ties in 2005, relations between China and Senegal have been particularly fruitful in the fields of infrastructure, medical care and agriculture.

"The relatively robust economic growth in emerging countries, including China, brings huge opportunities to other countries. Senegal hopes to grab this chance," said Jia Xiudong, a senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies.

Africa and China have similar histories, and so the Chinese story of economic development acts as a good role model for African nations, he said.

Apart from economic cooperation, Sall also told Xi that he welcomes the creation of a Chinese Cultural Center in his country "as soon as possible".

Sall said ahead of his visit that there is a need to enhance cultural cooperation between the two nations. "Culture, as one philosopher once said, is the alpha and omega, it's the beginning and the end of everything. In this area, we have a long history with China," Xinhua News Agency quoted him as saying.

Contact the writer at zhouwa@chinadaily.com.cn

Xinhua and AFP contributed to this story.