Wang Yi's Kenya trip shows importance of bilateral ties, offsets US' 'empty checks' and 'politicized schemes'
Published: Jan 06, 2022 09:05 PM
Wang Yi Photo:Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Wang Yi Photo:Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Concluding a visit to Eritrea, where Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi signed a joint statement on opposing hegemonic interference, Wang's new year trip moved on to Kenya.

Following his trip in January 2020, Kenya is again the destination for Wang's new year visit to Africa, which experts said indicates the importance of bilateral relations, with China being Kenya's largest trading partner and Kenya a model for jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and vital player in settling the turmoil in the Horn of Africa.

China will appoint a special envoy to the Horn of Africa to support the region's long-term peace and stability, Wang said on Thursday in a meeting with Kenya's Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Raychelle Omano.

Wang is scheduled to meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta during his two-day stay in the East African country.

According to the Chinese Embassy in Kenya, Wang's visit will "promote the implementation of the outcomes of the 8th FOCAC Ministerial Conference, dovetail new measures for practical China-Kenya cooperation, and support African countries in defeating COVID-19 and achieving economic recovery at an early date."

Kenya also plays a crucial role in the political, economic, and international relations of the region, Shen Xiaolei, an associate research fellow at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"In particular, the country has been playing a positive role in dealing with turmoil in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region, mediating in conflicts in Ethiopia, and in the regional battle against terrorism," he said.

Kenya Broadcasting Corp (HBC) reported that Wang is scheduled to tour the new 40 billion Ksh (Kenyan shilling) ($353 million) oil terminal being built by China Communication Construction Co.

According to the Kenya Ports Authority, the terminal will bring various benefits to the economies of the region, including reduced vessel turn-around time from four days to two, guaranteed security of supply for the region, and an expected significant reduction in costs, the KBC report said.

Other projects being implemented by China in Kenya include the completed 480-kilometer Standard Gauge Railway linking Mombasa to the capital Nairobi, and a 27.1-kilometer elevated Expressway in Nairobi whose construction progress recently drew praise from President Uhuru Kenyatta who hailed China as Kenya's key development partner.

Wang's visit follows a trip to Africa by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in November last year, which was "in part aimed at countering China's growing influence on the continent," AFP reported.

The report accused Beijing of "using its creditor status to extract diplomatic and commercial concessions, with concerns that it is driving many African countries to take on unmanageable levels of debt."

"It is unreasonable for some people to 'worry about' the so-called debt trap. China is not Africa's largest creditor, and Africa's debt problem is not as serious as the West has described," Shen noted. "It is another politicized scheme of Western countries led by the US to undermine China-Africa ties."

Contrary to Western media hype, China has made significant contributions to Africa's infrastructure development, agricultural modernization, development of new energy sources, training of human resources and improvement of national governance, observers noted, and all these are tangible, pragmatic contributions beneficial to Africa's sustainable development.

Compared with the US' giving "empty checks" and failing to deliver on its promises, China has kept its word, observers said. Despite the impact of COVID-19, more than 90 percent of the outcomes of the 2018 FOCAC Summit have been implemented, which is a remarkable achievement. 

Shortly after the 8th FOCAC session concluded, China began to deliver its promised outcomes, providing vaccines to nine countries including Zimbabwe and Mozambique. "It is for this reason that African countries have more trust in and support for China," Shen stressed. 

Wang's visit to Kenya is part of a three-nation tour of Africa. He is scheduled to visit Comoros after completing his visit to Kenya.