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China’s Xi to visit S. Africa from March 26

China’s incoming president Xi Jinping will visit South Africa this month, shortly after he takes up the post, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

“On the 26 (March) there will be state visit of China in Pretoria,” said spokesman Clayson Monyela.

Xi will then attend a summit of the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — in the Indian Ocean port city of Durban.

The trip is likely to be seen as highly symbolic, a sign that China’s drive for deeper economic ties with Africa will continue during X’s term as China’s paramount leader.

Sino-African trade is now worth around $160 billion a year, with the continent providing many of the raw materials that feed China’s vast manufacturing sector.

At the Durban summit, BRICS leaders are expected to finalised plans to create a joint development bank and to discuss pooling their vast foreign currency reserves.

Xi’s visit to South Africa is expected to conclude on March 28.

He is expected to officially become China’s president during a meeting of the National People’s Congress, which began on Tuesday.

He replaces Hu Jintao, who has led China for a decade and who spearheaded the push for deeper ties with Africa.

In 2004 Hu embarked on a three-nation tour of Africa and in 2006 hosted a landmark summit of 48 African nations in Beijing.