* Xi oversees agreement on about a dozen new deals
* Africans see Chinese presence as counterbalance to West
BRAZZAVILLE, March 29 China's newly appointed
President Xi Jinping wrapped up a six-day tour of Africa on
Friday in Republic of Congo, where he signed off on
infrastructure projects and pledged deeper cooperation between
his country and the continent.
Thousands of people, many wearing T-shirts bearing the
president's likeness, turned out under a blazing equatorial sun
to welcome the new Chinese leader to the former French colony's
sprawling riverside capital, Brazzaville.
Xi, who in previous stops along the week-long trip has
attempted to outline his African policy as a partnership among
equals, used a speech before Congo's parliament to point to
China and Africa's mutual reliance for their future success.
"The future, the development of China will be an
unprecedented opportunity for Africa, and Africa's development
will be the same for my country," Xi told lawmakers.
"We expect to work together with our African friends to
seize upon historic opportunities and deepen cooperation ... in
order to bring greater benefit to the Chinese and African
peoples," he said.
China is offering $20 billion of loans to Africa between
2013 and 2015, and many governments welcome Beijing's growing
business-focused presence on the continent as a welcome
alternative to Western influence.
China imports oil from Congo, and on Friday, in line with
promises to deepen the relationship with African partners, Xi
oversaw finalisation of nearly a dozen new deals.
He agreed to finance a $63 million project to construct a
river port in Oyo, the hometown of Congo's President Denis
Sassou N'Guesso, where the government plans to develop a new
special economic zone.
Other projects to receive Chinese backing include a
19-megawatt hydroelectric power station in the northwest, and
the construction of a new port capable of handling mineral ore
shipments in Congo's economic capital, Pointe-Noire.
China also agreed to around 15 billion CFA francs ($29.36
million) in grants and zero-interest loans, and will build 200
homes and a school in the capital's Mpila, which was largely
destroy when a weapons depot exploded there last year.