• President Xi Jinping is welcomed by South African President Jacob Zuma upon his arrival at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

President Xi Jinping is welcomed by South African President Jacob Zuma upon his arrival at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. (Photo : www.the-star.co.ke)

President Xi Jinping led the signing of 26 agreements and loan deals with South Africa worth a total of 94 billion rand ($6.5 billion), aimed at putting up infrastructure in the continent’s most industrialized nation, the Shanghai Daily reported.

South African President Jacob Zuma welcomed the development, hailing the relations between the two nations as the "best ever" after the two leaders held talks to strengthen investment and resolve a trade imbalance, the report said.

Like Us on Facebook

"China and South Africa relations are at a new historical level. We want to build it into a model for relationships between China and other emerging economies," Xi said at a news conference following the talks.

China has extended a series loans to countries in Africa in the past few years. The continent supplies oil and raw materials such as copper and uranium to China.

On Tuesday, Dec. 1, Xi started his tour of Africa in Zimbabwe, where he pledged loans to revive the country's ailing economy, as he is also scheduled to co-chair the two-day Forum on China-Africa Cooperation set to begin in Johannesburg on Dec. 4.

The report said that several African heads of state are expected to attend the summit, where discussions will focus on how much China will extend in new loans, as its own economic growth slows. African nations may likely ask for debt moratoriums and technology transfers.

A spokesman said that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will ask Xi to fund rail and power projects, which are badly needed to diversify its economy hardly hit when oil prices plunged.

As part of the deals signed on Wednesday, China will lend $500 million to South Africa to boost its cash-strapped power utility. The two countries also signed a deal to improve nuclear power cooperation.

The electricity crisis in South Africa has increased costs for industry and discouraged investment. As part of its response, the country plans to build new nuclear plants that experts said may cost as much as $100 billion.

China also vowed to help to build a car manufacturing plant on South Africa's coast that is expected to export vehicles to other African countries by the end of 2017.

The two countries have also decided to waive visa requirements for diplomatic and government passport holders.

Xi also urged China and Africa to work together within the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and find a win-win cooperation for common development.

"Chinese and Africans will remain good friends, partners and brothers forever," Xi said, stressing that China will continue to uphold the guidelines of its Africa policy with a balanced approach to principles and interests.