President Hu Jintao on Thursday proposed measures in five priority areas, including financial assistance to the African Union's peacekeeping missions, to boost China's relations with the continent.
The president made the promise when addressing the opening ceremony of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Experts said the proposal reflects new trends on the African continent, including the lasting turmoil that has endangered regional development.
Among the priorities the president proposed is a commitment to "promote peace and stability in Africa and create a secure environment for Africa's development".
To that aim, China will launch the "Initiative on China-Africa Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Security" and deepen cooperation with the AU and African countries in peace and security, Hu said.
China will provide financial support for the AU peacekeeping missions and the development of the African Standby Force, and train more officials in peace and security affairs and peacekeepers for the AU, he said.
China will support the African integration process, and promote exchanges between the people, media and scholars of China and Africa to "lay a solid foundation of public support" to the relations.
The president also said Beijing will provide a $20 billion credit line to African countries over the next three years.
The loans will support infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and development of small and medium-sized businesses.
In addition, Beijing will "continue to expand aid to Africa, so that the benefits of development can be realized by the African people", Hu said.
The plan included various items, including training 30,000 personnel in various sectors for Africa, and offer 18,000 government scholarships.
"China wholeheartedly and sincerely supports African countries choosing their own development path, and will wholeheartedly and sincerely support them to raise their development ability," Hu said at the ministerial conference, which has taken place every three years since 2000.
Leaders of eight African nations, as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, attended the opening ceremony.
Ministers of foreign affairs and foreign economic cooperation from China and 50 African nations will attend the ministerial conference.
There have been reports on the conference linking China's assistance to Africa with criticism that Beijing is trying to get access to the resource-rich continent through massive cooperation.
However, many guests saw it differently.
"Africa's past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other countries," South African President Jacob Zuma said when addressing the opening ceremony.
"We are particularly pleased that in our relationship with China, we are equals, and that agreements entered into are for mutual gain," Zuma added.
"We certainly are convinced that China's intention is different than that of Europe, which to date continues to intend to influence African countries for their sole benefit."
Du Xudong, a commentator for People's Daily, wrote in an article on Thursday that Western media's misunderstanding of the close relations between China and Africa is partially due to the fact that they "just saw the flower but did no realize how deep the roots have extended".
China's friendship with Africa dates to the 1950s, when Beijing backed liberation movements on the continent that were fighting against Western colonial rule. Many African countries say they appreciate China's no-strings aid.
"And the Chinese people will never forget it was the African brothers who carried China on their shoulders into the United Nations," Du wrote, referring to the major role Africa played in helping Beijing regain its seat at the UN in 1971.
Liu Guijin, former special envoy of the Chinese government on African affairs, said the five proposals Hu raised on Thursday reflected new trends in China-Africa relations.
One of the highlights is security cooperation, Liu said.
"Africa is under great pressure in terms of security. ... In the past several years, the loss brought by turbulence in Africa has outdistanced the assistance it received," he said. "So China has found itself duty-bound to help."
During the two-day meeting, the delegates will review the implementation of tasks set in the last meeting in 2009, explore new ways to deepen Sino-African relations and improve the forum's mechanism.
It is also expected to forge a new cooperation plan for the coming three years.