New Chinese FM to visit ‘old friends’ in Africa, continue fine tradition of New Year’s first trip
Published: Jan 09, 2023 04:03 PM
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang will kick off his first visit to Africa from January 9 to 16, marking the 33rd consecutive year that Africa has been the destination of Chinese foreign minister's annual first overseas visit, a spokesperson for the ministry announced on Monday, noting that it reflects the great importance China attaches to the traditional friendship and development of relations with Africa.

To deepen the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership and boost friendly cooperation between China and Africa, Foreign Minister Qin Gang will visit Ethiopia, Gabon, Angola, Benin, Egypt, the African Union Headquarters and the League of Arab States Headquarters upon invitation from January 9 to 16, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for the ministry, announced, according to the ministry's official website.

The spokesperson said that at present, China-Africa relations are developing vigorously and entering a new era of building a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future. During his visit to Africa, Qin will hold meetings and talks with the leaders and foreign ministers of the five countries, as well as the chairman of the African Union Commission, and exchange views on bilateral relations and international and regional issues of common concern, Wang said at the regular press briefing on Monday.

China will uphold the principles of sincerity, amity, good faith and upholding justice and shared interests, carry forward the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, and work with Africa to implement the outcomes of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, so as to inject new impetus into the development of China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.

During his visit to Egypt, Qin is also set to meet with the secretary-general of the League of Arab States, Wang said, noting that China is ready to work with the Arab world to build a China-Arab community with a shared future oriented to the new era, safeguard the common interests of developing countries, and promote regional and global peace and stability.

Chinese President Xi Jinping in December 2022 made a trip to Saudi Arabia, his first to the Middle East region after the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which was also an unprecedented diplomatic event with the Arab world. Xi's Mideast trip was China's largest and highest-level diplomatic action with the Arab world since the founding of the People's Republic of China, Wang noted.

Chinese observers are eagerly anticipating Qin's visit, noting that he will continue the fine tradition between China and Africa and promote the long-lasting friendship.

During the trip, cooperation projects signed during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and those under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) framework are expected to be promoted, predicted He Wenping, director of the African Studies Section at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

China and Africa have achieved remarkable results in their pragmatic cooperation under the BRI's framework in the last 10 years. As this year marks the 10th anniversary of BRI, He believes Qin is likely to talk about the continuous cooperation with Africa under the framework as well as the potential third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and State Councilor Wang Yi confirmed last December that in 2023 China would host the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, adding that "all parties are looking forward to the convening" of the event.

Also, given that Africa faces economic and financial difficulties as well as food and fuel crises, how to better help the continent is also expected to be a topic of discussion during Qin's trip, He told the Global Times on Monday.

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as well as the turbulence that has deeply disrupted global supply and industry chains, more and more countries around the globe, especially developing countries in the third world, are now focusing on regional cooperation to avoid crises and uncertainties, said experts.   

China is supporting its traditional friends and partners to boost regional integration, connect the development strategies in different countries together, and jointly and deeply coordinate and cooperate on not only local issues but also international issues, analysts said. In other words, China is actively forming the model of cooperation between developing countries and the interdependency in a world of increasing uncertainties and potential new crises, and this is a new characteristic shown in the long-lasting close China-Africa friendship.  

Development is the most effective solution for conflicts, because poverty and famine are key reasons for most conflicts in the continent, so when China contributes to the regional peace process, China always offers help for development, education, infrastructure and public health, while staying away from lecturing the locals about "democracy" or "human rights," said analysts.