|Chinese President Xi Jinping (1st L) and his wife Peng Liyuan (2nd R) are welcomed by Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete (2nd L) and his wife Salma Kikwete (1st R) upon their arrival in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, March 24, 2013. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)
DAR ES SALAAM, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived here Sunday for a state visit to Tanzania aimed at enhancing friendship and cooperation between China and the East African country.
China and Tanzania enjoy a traditional brotherly friendship, which is deeply rooted in the hearts of both peoples, Xi said in a written statement upon arrival, hailing the two countries as all-weather friends.
The Chinese president said his visit is aimed at consolidating the traditional friendship, charting the course for future cooperation and promoting common development.
He said he is confident that the trip will inject new momentum and vigor into the development of the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries.
Xi was warmly received at the airport by his Tanzanian counterpart, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.
Since China and Tanzania established diplomatic ties in the 1960s, the two countries have maintained close high-level contacts, enhanced political mutual trust and expanded practical cooperation in a wide range of areas.
China has become Tanzania's largest trading partner and second largest source of investment. Bilateral trade reached 2.47 billion U.S. dollars last year, up 15.2 percent year on year.
The Tanzania visit by Xi, his first to the African continent since he became China's president earlier this month, fully demonstrated China's commitment to growing its relations with African countries.
"No matter how international landscape may change, China will continue to support and promote Africa's efforts to achieve peace, stability, prosperity and development, seek strength through unity and participate in international affairs on the basis of equality," Xi said in a joint interview with reporters from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, or BRICS, last Tuesday.
China and Africa have forged a profound friendship over the past decades. The two sides have supported each other in the course of national development, and coordinated well in dealing with international issues.
The China-Africa relations have grown more vigorously since 2000, when the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was established to further bilateral cooperation.
At the FOCAC Beijing Summit in 2006, China and Africa decided to build a new type of strategic partnership, which has deepened bilateral cooperation in all areas in recent years.
The two sides are actively implementing the follow-up actions to the fifth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC, said then Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at a press conference earlier this month.
"China and Africa will especially promote cooperation in such fields as investment and financing, assistance, African integration, civilian exchanges, peace and security in Africa," Yang said.
China became Africa's biggest trading partner in 2009. In 2012, bilateral trade grew to 198.4 billion dollars.
China's investment in Africa has also registered strong growth. By June 2012, China had invested 45 billion dollars in Africa, including over 15 billion dollars of direct investment.
Meanwhile, over 2,000 Chinese companies are operating in 50 African countries, and more than 85 percent of their staff are Africans.
China has also stepped up assistance to Africa, with more aid focusing on improving the well-being of local people, poverty reduction, disaster preparedness and mitigation, and capacity building.
Tanzania is the second leg of Xi's maiden foreign trip as president, following Russia.
After his Tanzania visit, Xi will travel to South Africa and the Republic of the Congo.
In South Africa, Xi will attend the fifth BRICS summit in the city of Durban on March 26-27, the first to be held on the African continent.