LONDON — Who would have thought that the Chinese Communist Party would become sensitive to world opinion? Strange as it may seem, Western criticism of China’s growing involvement in Africa has triggered outpourings of justificatory articles in CCP-controlled media as well as trips this year by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

There had been a lot of talk in the Western media about how China’s growing interest in Africa reflected a desire to secure access to raw materials from African countries. Nothing wrong with that — market competitors can slander each other in the hope of getting better terms — but the Chinese Communists reacted strongly. The CCP mouthpiece People’s Daily reported Wen’s screams that “no one can slander China for practicing neo-colonialism in Africa,” and Wen was quoted in Inna, the party-controlled news service, as claiming “there is no selfish interest for China to pursue in Africa.”

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