Increased Chinese involvement in Africa should be welcomed, former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano said on Monday, dismissing accusations that Chinese policies can encourage human rights abuses.

We have nothing to fear, Chissano said, adding that China had been at the forefront of countries working with the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the continent's home-grown economic rescue plan.

When NEPAD was asking for help with infrastructure, China came as an answer to that appeal. We want China to come, Chissano said in an interview with Reuters.

Chissano, who led Mozambique from 1986 to 2005 and is regarded as one of Africa's most influential statesmen, said China's no-strings policy on economic projects was an improvement over the European approach, which introduced political issues such as Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

It has been a long time since a Europe-Africa summit - they (Europeans) don't want Zimbabwe present, Chissano said.

(But) China wanted all countries to come (to its China-Africa Summit). China's policy on investing in Africa is discussed with people on the continent, he said.

Chissano is credited with turning Mozambique into one of Africa's success stories after nearly two decades of civil war ended in 1992.

As China increasingly turns to Africa as a source of minerals and oil and as a huge market for exports, some human rights groups and analysts say Beijing is underwriting abuses, corruption and misrule through aid and investments.

But Chissano said such fears were misplaced and that China was proving one of Africa's most reliable friends.

In Mozambique we have no fears. They (the Chinese) understand we should have a win-win situation - it will enable other investments, Chissano said.

Earlier this year China's Export-Import Bank (Eximbank) announced it would invest $2.3 billion in a new hydroelectric power plant in Mozambique, crucial to the southern African country's plans to exploit its mineral resources.

Eximbank has also extended $5 billion in loans to Angola for the rehabilitation of infrastructure ruined by three decades of civil war that ended in 2002, and made a raft of investment and aid deals in other parts of the continent.