China will write off 10 billion yuan (HK$9.4 billion) of debt owed by African allies over two years to help alleviate poverty and show that Beijing is taking on a donor-nation role on the global stage. Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation Minister Shi Guangsheng announced the aid package on the second day of Sino-African talks in Beijing. Mr Shi declined to say which countries would be eligible for debt relief, but indicated the gesture would not be extended to the eight African nations that maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The minister did not give a total figure for African debt - arising mostly from low or interest-free loans - owed to Beijing. Mr Shi said it was time for developed countries to write off Africa's US$320 billion (HK$2,496 billion) foreign debt. China, with more than 30 million people living in absolute poverty, had taken the initiative. He told 84 African leaders, representing 44 countries at the forum, that the foreign aid programme would be strengthened. Vice-Premier Qian Qichen met Salim Ahmed Salim, secretary-general of the Organisation of African Unity and called on all African countries to expand Sino-African co-operation.