by Xinhua writer Guo Jun
BANJUL, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid a visit to Africa on Jan. 2-6, carrying on a 29-year tradition of making Africa the destination of a Chinese top diplomat's first new year overseas trip.
Wang said friendship between China and African countries is "solid and unbreakable" as ever and that cooperation between them continues to be robust and "expanding fast." African leaders hailed Wang's visit as a testimony of their true friendship, saying it injects a strong impetus in their relations with China.
Wang's five-day African trip covered Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Senegal. He also visited the headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa. Wang's Africa trip also came after the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit in September 2018.
"The visit honors a 29-year-old tradition of the Chinese foreign minister making Africa the destination of his first visit in the new year and reflects the strong friendship built over the past decades," said Xu Zhicheng, an associate professor at the School of Economics, Henan University who specializes in aid studies.
SUPPORTING AFRICA'S ECONOMIC AUTONOMY
Wang said at the start of his African trip in Addis Ababa that the FOCAC Beijing Summit was a great success and that the initiatives outlined at the summit serve as a blueprint for the cooperation between China and Africa.
He said the main purpose of his visit was to communicate with African countries based on the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith, and the approach of upholding justice and pursuing shared interests.
After a meeting with his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu, Wang said China will support Africa on achieving economic autonomy and sustainable development. China is dedicated to helping Africa in its development and bringing benefits to the African people, he said.
In Dakar, Wang and leaders of Senegal vowed to boost their cooperation. Senegal's Foreign Minister Sidiki Kaba said Senegal will expand cooperation with China, including that related to the Belt and Road Initiative.
In Ouagadougou, Wang and his Burkina Faso counterpart Alpha Barry agreed that the bilateral cooperation has been off to a good start since the two countries signed a joint communique on the resumption of their diplomatic ties in May 2018. The cooperation is growing extensively in many fields including agriculture.
"Facts have proved that the decision of Burkina Faso to resume the diplomatic ties with China is 100 percent correct," Wang said.
In Banjul, Wang said during a meeting with his Gambian counterpart Mamadou Tangara that the two countries have restored exchanges in various fields and achieved notable results in cooperation on major infrastructure projects since the resumption of diplomatic ties more than two years ago.
During the trip, Wang highlighted the importance of adherence to the one-China policy in the cooperation between China and Africa as the political foundation for the relations. He also said China has played a unique and constructive role in safeguarding peace and promoting security in Africa, which serve as the prerequisite for development.
RELIABLE, LONG-LASTING PARTNERSHIP
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the visit by his Chinese guest testifies to the point that China is a true friend of Ethiopian and African people.
Receiving Wang at the AU headquarters, Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat said Africa-China relations are united and friendly, strong and powerful, and mutually beneficial.
In Ouagadougou, President of Burkina Faso Roch Marc Christian Kabore said the people of Burkina Faso are filled with hope for the future of the bilateral ties.
Summing up his four-country tour in Dakar on Sunday, Wang said the interactions on his tour reflected the unbreakable friendship between China and Africa, the calls for upholding multilateralism, the increasing support for jointly promoting the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation, and the reaffirmation of the one-China policy in Africa.
Wang said China has proved to be the most reliable and long-lasting partner of Africa, dedicated to helping Africa to develop and bringing benefits to the African people.
China has helped build more than 10,000 km of highways, more than 6,000 km of railways, and hundreds of airports, ports and power stations in Africa. It has also helped build many more hospitals, schools and other essential projects, and sent more than 20,000 medical workers to Africa to treat more than 200 million local patients.
CLAIM OF CHINA DEBT TRAP REFUTED
China-Africa cooperation has been a model not only for South-South cooperation but also for international cooperation with Africa, Wang said. He said China respects the choice of the African people in terms of development paths.
Wang refuted allegations that financial problems, including national debts which African countries face, have resulted from their cooperation with China.
He said such rumors are an attempt to discredit China's sincere support and had been refuted by many African countries. Wang added that China sincerely upholds openness and transparency and strictly follows local laws and market rules of different countries, and that it never allows and will never tolerate any black-box operations and corrupt practices.
Wang said the cooperation projects, which often represent efforts in building infrastructure and training the local labor force, follow win-win principles and are important in enabling Africa to achieve economic autonomy and sustainable development. They are a solution to the debt problems, he added.
Xu said the cooperation projects between China and Africa are often characterized by the respect for the choice of the African people to pursue their own development paths; and the concentration of the projects in the infrastructural sector which leverages China's experience and strengths to serve the purpose of development promotion in Africa.
He said that the best gauge of the results of such cooperation is their warm reception in Africa. Based on statistics in 2014-15 from the AfroBarometer, an independent research network which polls people in Africa on topics of interest, about 73 percent of the respondents believe China has played a positive role in African development.
"The relationship is set to be further strengthened in the future," Xu said. (Xinhua reporters Wang Shoubao in Addis Ababa, Xu Zheng in Nairobi, Xing Jianqiao in Dakar and Liu Ruijuan in Nairobi contributed to the report)