Qin Gang meets AUC chairman; both sides show confidence in prospects of China-Africa relations
Published: Jan 11, 2023 11:57 PM
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (L) and Moussa Faki (R), Chairman of the African Union Commission, shake hands during their meeting at the Africa Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on January 11, 2023.  Photo: VCG

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (L) and Moussa Faki (R), Chairman of the African Union Commission, shake hands during their meeting at the Africa Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on January 11, 2023. Photo: VCG

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang is paying his first foreign visit to Africa, with his first stop in Ethiopia, and this also marks the 33rd consecutive year that Africa has been the destination of Chinese foreign ministers' annual first overseas trip. Experts said the China-Africa traditional friendship will continue to help African countries realize sustainable peace and development when the world is in turbulence.

After Ethiopia, Qin will visit Gabon, Angola, Benin, Egypt, and the League of Arab States Headquarters upon invitation, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Chinese analysts said this is a thoughtful arrangement, as the trip covers African countries from all regions of the continent with different economic sizes, languages and cultural backgrounds, and this shows that China is dealing with different African partners with an equal attitude, and has a comprehensive and mature diplomatic policy toward the continent.

Qin and Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, held the 8th China-African Union strategic dialogue at the organization's headquarters in Ethiopia on Wednesday. 

Qin said that integration in Africa has seen great progress in recent years, and the collective influence of African countries on international issues is strengthening and China congratulates this achievement.

China takes the lead in supporting the African Union to join the G20, and supports strengthening the representatives and influence of African countries in the UN Security Council and other international organizations, Qin said. 

Faki said when Africa fights for national independence and liberation, China stands with Africa; when Africa pays efforts to accelerate development and to participate in international affairs, China stands with Africa. Africans appreciate China's great support for the integration and interconnectivity of Africa, as well as the construction of free trade zones for the continent.  

The two sides hold full confidence for the prospects of China-Africa relations, and stress that the two sides will make closer and more frequent high-level exchanges, will more closely connect the development strategies of both sides and will focus on pragmatic cooperation. Qin said China will keep playing a constructive role to safeguard the peace and security of Africa.

The African Union Headquarters is in Ethiopia, and the League of Arab States Headquarters is in Egypt, so making these countries the first and last stop shows China's tribute to all African countries and Arab countries. China encourages countries to get united under the frame of the African Union and the League of Arab States, because in a world wracked with turbulence, cooperation and unification are crucial for countries, especially developing countries, to overcome challenges and avoid conflicts, analysts said. 

According to the Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday, during the meeting with Qin in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Tuesday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Qin's choice of Ethiopia as the first stop of his first overseas visit since taking office fully demonstrates the profound friendship between the two countries and the importance of bilateral relations.

Ahmed said Ethiopia's cooperation with China in such areas as infrastructure, green economy, agriculture and industrial park construction has been exemplary and produced remarkable results, helping Ethiopia to rank among the fastest-growing economies in Africa.

Ethiopia welcomes more Chinese enterprises to invest and do business in the country, Ahmed said.

Qin said China supports Ethiopia in pursuing a development path suited to its own national conditions, and leaders of the two countries have maintained close exchanges in recent years, charting the course for the development of bilateral relations under the new circumstances.

Qin reiterated China's readiness to deepen and expand bilateral cooperation in various fields and encourage more Chinese enterprises to invest in Ethiopia and participate in its reconstruction drive. He expressed the hope that Ethiopia will provide a sound business environment and take effective measures to protect the security and safety as well as the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese personnel and institutions.

Currently, Ethiopia is going through a peace process, as the country's government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) reached a cease-fire agreement in November 2022, and the China-proposed "Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa" played key role to ease the regional situation, said Li Wentao, executive director of the Africa Study Institute under the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. 

Qin's visit will keep promoting peace for the region, and has significance for the long-term and sustainable peace and stability for the whole region, Li noted.

Qin also had a joint press conference with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen after their talks. When asked about China's views on the peace agreement in Ethiopia and the progress of the China-proposed "Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa" in Ethiopia, Qin said that Ethiopia is the common home of all Ethiopian people, including those from Tigray.

Ethiopia has now entered a new stage of looking forward to peace and focusing on development after the recent signing of a cease-fire agreement between the federal government of Ethiopia and the TPLF, which has been gradually implemented, he said.

"China has always supported Africans in solving African problems in African ways," Qin noted. He said the strategic location of the Horn of Africa is of great significance to the peace and stability of Africa and the Middle East, and that China put forward the "Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa" to support countries in the region to seek strength through unity and achieve prosperity and stability.

Liu Haifang, director of the Center for African Studies at Peking University, told the Global Times on Wednesday that a key difference between China and some Western major powers when dealing with regional problems in Africa is that "China never force Africa to accept any political preconditions, and never interferes in local issues with force, and always supports Africans to solve African problems in African ways."

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.

Recalling Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Xue Bing's visit to many countries in the region, Qin said China supported the convening of the inaugural Horn of Africa peace conference that made a positive contribution to building consensus among all parties and promoting peace and development in the region.

Qin noted that China has provided shipments of food, vaccines and other humanitarian supplies to Ethiopia to help improve the livelihoods of people in conflict-affected areas. China will continue to do so and will actively participate in the reconstruction of conflict-afflicted areas, Qin said, urging the international community to increase humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia and support the reconstruction and economic and social development of the affected regions.