China made the promises at a Beijing conference aimed at building economic ties between China and Africa on Saturday.

Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, pledged to double China's aid to Africa from its 2006 level by 2009.

 

Speaking at the conference's opening ceremony, he promised African nations $3 billion in loans and $2 billion in export credits.

 

"China will forever be a good friend, good partner and good brother of Africa," Hu said in a speech at Beijing;s Great Hall of the People.

 

He also pledged to create a $5 billion fund to encourage Chinese investment in Africa.

 

"Chinese assistance to Africa is sincere, unselfish and has no strings attached," Wen Jiabao, the premier of China's ruling state council, said at a gathering of Chinese and African entrepreneurs held as part of the conference.

 

Two day event

 

Wen promised to ensure that projects are "open, just, fair and transparent."

The event was China's largest ever diplmomatic conference

 

The two-day event included heads of state from 35 of the 53 African nations, and leading officials from 13 others - one of the largest such gatherings in history.

 

China's trade with Africa soared to $39.7 billion last year -four times its 2000 level - according to Wen.

 

He called for efforts to boost that to $100 billion by 2020, and promised to open China's markets wider to African exports.

 

China's state oil companies are also expanding in Africa, signing deals in Nigeria, Angola, Sudan and elsewhere.