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China's Xi in Congo on final leg of Africa tour

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

China's new President Xi Jinping arrived Friday in the Congolese capital Brazzaville on the final leg of a three-nation Africa tour that has underscored Beijing's growing presence in the resource-rich continent.

Deals worth several billion dollars are due to be signed during Xi's two-day visit to Congo, the first by a Chinese president to the impoverished country of four million with significant oil resources.

One will finance the building of more than 500 kilometres (300 miles) of highway between Brazzaville and the economic capital on the Atlantic Coast, Pointe-Noire.

Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan were met by Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso upon their arrival in Brazzaville.

Xi's African tour, part of his first presidential trip that began in Russia, has also taken him to Tanzania and South Africa.

China's business boom and its rise to become the world's second-largest economy has seen financial and trade ties rocket in recent years as it sources many of its raw materials from Africa.

But ahead of Xi's visit to Congo, many expressed doubt that he will bring job opportunities with him, since when Chinese companies set up shop in Africa, they often bring their workers with them.

"It's like we don't have able hands in Congo," a teacher at a training college told AFP. "If you import labour when there are no able people or specialists, that's OK. But they even bring their own chauffeurs. There's no transfer of abilities."

In South Africa, Xi attended the summit of the BRICS group of emerging economic powers -- Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa -- at which they agreed to launch a new development bank while failing to set up an infrastructure fund.

South African President Jacob Zuma, after meeting Xi on Tuesday, hailed China's economic success as an inspiration for Africa's biggest economy, but urged more equitable trade ties.

Earlier in Tanzania, Xi called Africa a "continent of hope and promise" and urged the rest of the world to "respect (its) dignity and independence".

Bilateral trade reached some $200 billion last year, Xi said in Tanzania, adding that China would "intensify not weaken" its relationship and noting a commitment to provide a $20 billion credit-line to African nations over the next two years.

Xi was due to address Congo's parliament later Friday.

On Saturday Xi, who was named China's new president on March 14 after taking the reins of the Communist Party last November, will inaugurate a hospital and a library before heading home to Beijing.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130329/chinas-xi-congo-final-leg-africa-tour