Updated: 06/19/2014 01:26 | By Agence France-Presse

Chinese VP in Zambia to boost ties with Africa's copper giant

The Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao arrived in Zambia on Wednesday for a three-day visit where he will sign loan and grant agreements to aid the African country's development.

Chinese VP in Zambia to boost ties with Africa's copper giant

Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao inspects a guard of honour upon his arrival at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport on June 18, 2014 in Lusaka - by Joseph Mwenda

Accompanied by 21 businessmen and Communist Party officials, Li is due to sign eight agreements which Zambian media said include the financing of hospital and mobile medical clinics, road construction, and electricity generation projects.

China is Zambia's top foreign investor in Zambia, but relations have occasionally been tense and its preponderant role controversial, with a Chinese manager killed during a 2012 riot over wages at a coal mine.

Besides their involvement in copper and coal mining, Chinese companies are building roads, Zambia's new international airport and stadiums.

Li will hold talks with President Michael Sata, who when he was in opposition railed against the growing Chinese presence in Zambia.

Sata has however softened his tone since coming to power in 2011 after realising the importance of Chinese investment to the Zambian economy.

Trade between the two countries rose to $3.8 billion last year, from $3.4 billion in 2012.

China's ambassador to Zambia, Zhou Yuxiao, said the trip is aimed at further boosting "government-to-government and party-to-party relations between our two countries."

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