African dancers and a 21-gun salute welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping in Dar es Salaam at the start of an African tour that underlines the continent's strategic importance for China both for its resources and as a marketplace.
Visiting Tanzania, South Africa and Republic of Congo on his first trip abroad as president, Mr Xi will aim to build on expanding economic relations that many Africans see as a healthy counterbalance to the influence of the West.
He might also address concerns in Africa that the continent is exporting raw materials while spending heavily to import finished consumer goods from the Asian economic powerhouse.
"He will be looking to tone down the feeling that China is just here to exploit resources. I think that is going to be his main job," James Shikwati, director of the Nairobi-based Inter Regional Economic Network thinktank, told Reuters.
Mr Xi is due to hold trade talks with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete before a state banquet. Mr Xi will deliver his first policy speech on Africa today.
He will then head to South Africa for a summit of leaders of the world's major emerging economies, known as the BRICS, tomorrow and Wednesday, and could endorse plans to create a joint foreign exchange reserves pool and an infrastructure.
The proposal underscores frustrations among emerging markets at having to rely on the World Bank and IMF, which are seen as reflecting the interests of the United States and other industrialised nations.
China has built roads, railways, and landmark buildings across Africa to win access to its oil and minerals like copper and uranium.
"China is what we call an all-weather friend," said teacher Mwajuma Swai before Mr Xi's arrival. "They don't flip-flop like the West and they don't give us a string of conditions for aid and trade."