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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China Courts Africa With Aid and Investment

BEIJING -- Chinese President Hu Jintao embarked on his country's latest effort to woo Africa with aid and business Tuesday, leaving on an eight-country tour that will include a controversial visit to war-stricken Sudan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Hu's tour was "another major diplomatic move" toward Africa after an African summit held in Beijing in November, Xinhua news agency reported.

China sought then to show that its rapidly expanding ties with Africa went beyond the oil and minerals that Beijing has been snapping up to fuel its economic boom. And Hu's visit has been promoted to send the same message.

At the summit, Hu offered $5 billion in loans and credit to Africa along with a doubling of aid. China went some way to acting on that promise, announcing on Monday that it would lend African states $3 billion in preferential credit over three years and double aid and interest-free loans over the same time.

The announcement stressed that China's offer came with none of the "political conditions" that Western countries often demand -- and which irk many African leaders.

Western aid groups have criticized China, saying it encourages corruption and misrule by failing to demand accountability when giving aid, loans and investment.

In 2006, trade between China and Africa reached $55.5 billion, a jump of 40 percent on the previous year, Xinhua reported on Monday, citing Ministry of Commerce data.