World shakes as China’s global footprint deepens in 2006

BEIJING, Dec 21, 2006 (AFP) – From the oil fields of Africa to the living rooms of American homes and Asia’s shopping malls, virtually every part of the world felt the impact in 2006 of China’s ongoing, spectacular transformation.

China’s successful courting of Africa during the year, which resulted in a strengthened alliance of some concern to the West, was one of the most striking features of the country’s seemingly inexorable rise as a global power.

President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing visited 16 African nations in the first half of the year, with tapping the continent’s energy resources one of their top priorities.

China later hosted a summit of African leaders in November and hailed it the biggest diplomatic event since the Communist Party established the People’s Republic in 1949.

China uses “peaceful rise” as a mantra when referring to its development, well aware that many countries are concerned that the growing power of the world’s most populous nation is a threat as much as an opportunity.

But perhaps in a sign that China is becoming increasingly emboldened, Hu made a speech in India that appeared to deviate from cautious rhetoric and left no doubt about his view on