China-Africa traditional friendship shows 'new characteristic' as FM Qin concludes 8-day visit
China welcomes major Western powers to help Africa together, but opposes confrontation: experts
Published: Jan 16, 2023 10:03 PM
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (left) shakes hands with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry after a press conference in Cairo on January 15, 2023. Photo: VCG

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (left) shakes hands with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry after a press conference in Cairo on January 15, 2023. Photo: VCG

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang concluded his first official overseas trip since his appointment on December 30, 2022, with visits to five African countries and two regional organizations on his busy eight-day schedule. Experts said the traditional friendship between China and Africa has been further deepened, and in a world in turbulence, the China-Africa relationship is a symbol of developing countries working together to withstand uncertainties and potential crises through cooperation and development. 

The last stop of Qin's trip was Egypt, where the Chinese foreign minister met with President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and Arab League (AL) Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Cairo on Sunday. Analysts said Egypt is a country that plays a leading role in the region and is where the AL is headquartered, so it's also a country with strategic influence among Arab countries and the Muslim world. 

The Egyptian president said at the meeting with Qin that China is a great country and its development is unstoppable, and the friendship between Egypt and China has been historically "unbreakable," Xinhua reported. 

Egypt will continue to firmly adhere to the one-China principle and "resolutely oppose any interference in China's internal affairs by external forces," Sisi stressed.

China and Egypt, as well as many other countries in the region and the Arab world, are both facing pressure and threats from some hegemonic powers, and the chaos and turbulence that hegemony has brought to the world in recent years have made more countries decide to stand closer to withstand the interference together, said experts. 

Commending the fruitful results that Egypt and China have achieved in jointly advancing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Sisi said Chinese enterprises are welcome to invest and set up businesses in Egypt.

In light of China's recent optimization and adjustment of COVID-19 prevention and control measures, Egypt warmly welcomes the Chinese people to visit as soon as possible, the Egyptian president said.

Egypt's friendly attitude toward China proves that China's long-standing contributions to and support for the region and the whole continent have brought fruitful and reliable results, analysts said. 

Liu Haifang, director of the Center for African Studies at Peking University, told the Global Times that the China-Egypt cooperation shows many new characteristics. "The two countries have had high-level cooperation to produce China's COVID-19 vaccine in Egypt, and China is now helping Egypt to build a new administrative capital in the desert. These successful examples are providing models for China's cooperation with other countries, not only in Africa but also around the globe."

In his meeting with Qin, AL Secretary-General Gheit thanked China for its many years of upholding justice in the international arena, its support for the development of Arab countries and the AL's unity, and the help it provided for Arab states in the successful fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Both sides agreed to speed up implementing the outcomes of the first China-Arab States Summit.

Qin's Africa trip started from Ethiopia, where the African Union is headquartered, and by making Egypt the last stop, China shows that it is aware of the current changes in globalization - fragmentization and regionalization. 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. 

Qin also visited Gabon, Angola and Benin during his eight-day trip. Liu Qinghai, a professor at the Institute of African Studies of Zhejiang Normal University, told the Global Times that Benin is a country with great representation in Western Africa, and many international organizations are establishing their African branches in the country, adding that Gabon is a country in Central Africa, and these two countries are French-speaking nations. "The visit will further promote China's cooperation with French-speaking Africa," Liu Qinghai noted. 

Following the Chinese foreign minister, top diplomats from France and Germany, as well as US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, will visit Africa this week. This shows that major Western powers have realized the importance of Africa, especially when they face huge challenges in Europe and internal problems such as economic recession and inflation.

China welcomes all other major powers to support the development of Africa, help African people to overcome challenges and solve problems for them together, but if anyone wants to bring bloc-to-bloc confrontation or even try to force African countries to confront China, it will pay a heavy price and eventually realize that such an unfavorable plan is doomed to fail, experts noted.