CAIRO (AFP/Reuters) - Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao sought to reassure the worlds Muslims about his countrys goodwill towards them in Cairo on Saturday, at a time when Beijing is criticised for the treatment of its own Muslim minority. The relationship between Chinese civilisation and Islamic civilisation goes back years, Wen said in a speech delivered at the Cairo-based headquarters of the 22-member Arab League. China is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. The basic policy of the Chinese government is to ensure equality among all ethnic groups and speed up the economic development of all regions, he said. In July, violence erupted in Chinas Xinjiang region pitting mainly Muslim minority Uighurs against members of Chinas dominant Han group, leaving 197 dead and more than 1,600 injured, according to official figures. Han vigilantes then went on a rampage against Uighurs two days later, but the exact number of casualties from that day has never been divulged. Chinas treatment of the Uighurs received worldwide condemnation and the United States accused China of repression of peaceful expressions of religious beliefs and political views. But Wen insisted in remarks at the Arab League that Chinese Muslims were not discriminated against. In China, more than 20 million people from 10 ethnic groups believe in Islam. They are all members of the big family of the Chinese nation, Wen said. Their beliefs, culture and way of life are fully respected. The Chinese Premier gave his speech on the eve of a summit with African leaders in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh as Beijing bids to expand its diplomatic and economic influence across the resource-rich continent. Wen, who was accompanied by a high-level delegation of officials and businessmen, met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif earlier Saturday before overseeing the signing of a number of economic and cultural agreements between both countries. China will increase investment in and aid to African countries despite the effects of global economic crisis, according to draft agreements to be signed at a summit in Egypt on Sunday (today). The summit comes as Chinese appetite for raw materials, especially oil and minerals, helps drive growth in Africa. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will meet African leaders in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, the highest level of contact between the two sides since Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged $5 billion in loans to Africa at a summit in Beijing in 2006. Despite its own difficulties caused by the impact of the global financial crisis, China expressed commitment to further scaling up assistance to Africa, reads a draft action plan to be agreed by the two sides, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters. While China has been coy about exactly how much more aid it will provide, Beijing is keen to show its interest in Africa goes beyond simply extracting natural resources. In the next three years, the Chinese side will continue to provide preferential loans to African countries, which will be used mainly to support infrastructure and social development projects. China will continue to cooperate with Africa ... and try to raise the added value of the energy and resources products of African countries and enhance their capacity for intensive processing, reads the draft plan. The draft said the Chinese side promised to further open its market to African countries. More African goods would be able to be exported to China tariff-free.