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SA & China sign 26 agreements worth R94bn

China’s development bank has also agreed on a $500 million dollar loan facility for Eskom.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and South African President Jacob Zuma (L) arrive for a meeting after the arrival ceremony of the Chinese President, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, during the start of his official tour to South Africa on December 2, 2015. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma says South Africa and China have signed 26 agreements worth R94 billion.

Zuma is hosting his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping on a state visit to South Africa, where the leaders have been discussing, among other things, economic trade between the two nations.

They've agreed to making China and South African relations a key part of their foreign policies.

Zuma says the agreements signed at the Union Buildings this afternoon show that cooperation between the two countries is stronger than ever.

"The volume of agreements indicates the amount of work that has been done in the past few months. We agreed that more could and should be done to increase our trade and investment figures."

President Xi says relations between China and South African are in the "best shape" ever thanks to continued engagement on growth and investment.

"Our practical cooperation is deepening. People to people, and our cultural exchanges are flourishing. Our cooperation on international affairs is becoming closer. China-South Africa relations are in the best shape ever."

China's development bank has also agreed on a $500 million dollar loan facility for Eskom.

CHINA TO LEAD TALKS WITH AFRICAN LEADERS

President Xi will co-chair a two-day Forum on China-Africa Cooperation which begins in Johannesburg on Friday, with several African heads of state expected to attend, including Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari.

Summit discussions are seen centring on whether China will extend new loans despite its own slowing economy, while African nations may push for debt moratoriums and technology transfers.

China says its trade with Africa last year was worth $220 billion last year with investments seen at $32,4 billion , but direct investment has fallen roughly 40 percent in the first half of 2015 to $1,19 billion.

Chinese tourism has also declined, with tour operators attributing $540 million of yearly revenue losses to Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba's new visa rules.

But on Wednesday, Gigaba said the Ebola virus in Africa was partly to blame for the drop numbers of Chinese tourists visiting South Africa rather than visa requirements.

"To blame the drop in tourism numbers on visa requirements is lazy," Gigaba said.

Chinese influence is broadly seen by Africans as a healthy counterbalance to the West, though Western governments accuse China of turning a blind eye to conflicts and rights abuses as they pursue trade and aid policies there.

The Chinese president had started his Africa tour in Zimbabwe on Tuesday where he witnessed the signing of 10 business agreements, including Beijing providing $1 billion for the country's largest thermal power plant.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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