China's trade ministry hinted that mainland trade with African countries would rapidly increase beyond the record US$18.5 billion in bilateral trade posted in 2003. China imports 25% of its oil from Africa, principally Nigeria, and trade has quickly widened to 40 countries, according to Li Xiaobing, the deputy director of the West Asian and African Affairs division of the Trade Ministry. He said China was building a railway in Nigeria, a hotel in Algeria and a mobile phone network in Tunisia, among other projects on the continent. Gabon is another key trade target because of oil. Both Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have made extensive tours of the continent cementing ties with key trade partners.
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