China on Tuesday scorned US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's suggestion that its influence in Africa could foster a “new colonialism” there, saying it too had suffered from colonialism.

Clinton told a Zambian television show on the weekend that Africa must beware of “new colonialism”, as China expands its presence, and she offered the United States as a partner seeking to help African countries improve themselves.

Clinton did not specify China as the target of her remarks, but her comments left little doubt that she had it in mind.

“When people come to Africa to make investments, we want them to do well but also want them to do good,” she said.

“We saw that during colonial times it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not name Clinton, but when asked about her comments, said Beijing was far from a coercive and exploitative force in Africa.

“China and the countries of Africa were historically the victims of colonial occupation and oppression, and they all truly know what colonialism was,” the spokesman Hong told a regular news conference in Beijing.

“We have never imposed our will on African countries,” he added. “We hope that those concerned can view Chinese-African cooperation objectively and fairly.”

China has increasingly turned to Africa for oil and mineral resources, markets and diplomatic support. In 2009, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao offered Africa $10 billion in concessional loans over three years.

Critics say Beijing's aid is too often tied to its investment interests and can undermine efforts to encourage clean government in Africa because it does not demand the same kind of accountability as much Western aid.

Hong said that, on the contrary, China was committed to respecting African countries and cooperating with them for “mutually beneficial gain.” - Reuters