BY YANG ZIGANG (Chinese Ambassador to the State of Eritrea)
“The Belt and Road” Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing, China on May 14 and 15, which attracted worldwide attention. Countries along “the Belt and Road” participate in the Forum actively, and highly anticipate that the outcomes of the Forum will bring new chances and create new prospect for international economic cooperation.
Eritrea, China’s good friend in the Horn of Africa and along the Red Sea, attended this high-level conference with a strong desire to join “the Belt and Road” and search for development opportunities. I believe, it is definitely a new chance for promoting friendly cooperation between China and Eritrea.
China and Eritrea share a long history of friendship. Through the ancient Maritime Silk Road, our ancestors established commercial and cultural ties as early as in the first century AD. An ancient wine vase with four Chinese characters of “万和禅山” was excavated in Harena Islands close to ancient port of Adulis (800 BC to 800 AD). It is now exhibited in Northern Red Sea Region Museum as an exact example of our longstanding friendship.
The political foundation of China-Eritrean friendship is solid. On May 24,1993, when Eritrea formally achieved its independence, our two countries immediately established diplomatic relations. Since then, the friendship between China and Eritrea has developed smoothly. We understand and support each other in international affairs and issues of our core interests and major concerns. We have become good friends, partners and brothers sharing similar value while seeking co-development.
In this April, Mr. Osman Saleh, Foreign Minister and Mr. Yemane Ghebreab, PFDJ’s Head of Political Affairs paid a formal visit to China together. Both China’s vice President Li Yuanchao and State Councilor Yang Jiechi met with them and exchanged views on boosting bilateral relations and international issues of common concern. This visit was a great success.
The achievements of China-Eritrean friendship and cooperation are significant. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the Chinese government has provided assistance in its power to Eritrea in the fields of infrastructure construction, education, health care and so on, which has brought tangible benefits to Eritrean people.
The Practical Cooperation between China and Eritrea have also made steady progress. Since December 2015, the two governments have signed 16 documents related to economic cooperation and grants. We also vigorously implement the outcomes of the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit, and carry out the practical and mutually beneficial cooperation under the framework of the “Ten Cooperation Plans” announced at the Summit.
In July 2016, the first meeting of China-Eritrea Joint Committee of Economics and Trade was held in Beijing. The Eritrean delegation were composed of President’s economic adviser and five ministers. The meeting achieved positive outcome in augmenting economic and trade cooperation between our two countries.
Since Eritrea’s independence, Chinese companies have entered Eritrea to seek cooperation and co-development. At present, there are nearly 20 Chinese companies operating in Eritrea, including SFECO, SRBG, Huawei, etc. They work in mining, electricity, construction, communications and other fields, and are highly appreciated and warmly received by the Eritrean government and the local communities.
In recent years, bilateral economic and trade cooperation has been expanding, demonstrating a diversified development trend. Now, China is proud to be the largest trade partner, investment source and contractor of Eritrea.
The prospect of China-Eritrean friendship and cooperation is bright. the Eritrean government is enhancing national governance, and actively improving the infrastructure as well as people’s livelihood.
Eritrea enjoys great development potential in various fields: it is located in an important position, connecting Red Sea and Indian Oceans; it has 1200 kilometer coastline and more than 300 islands, and is rich in maritime resources and tourism assets; it has an advantage to exploit solar energy since most of the country are highlands in low geographical latitude with strong sunshine. Currently, mineral exploitation, infrastructure construction, fisheries and regional aviation cooperation have become important areas for bilateral cooperation between our two sides.
The Eritrean government responds positively to “the Belt and Road” Initiative. And as a good friend of China, Eritrea is expected to be an important participant and partner, taking ride of “the Belt and Road” Initiative to deepen the cooperation between our two countries in different aspects, and make new opportunities for Eritrea’s economic and social development.
Mr. Hagos GebreHiwet, PFDJ’s Head of Economic Affairs will attend the high level conference of the “the Belt and Road” Forum. I believe that the visit will intensify Eritrea’s understanding of the principle of “achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration” and the important initial results in “the Belt and Road”.
Moreover, I am confident that Eritrea will acquire more experience by participating in the forum, and explore how the country could play more active role in “the Belt and Road” platform, and search more opportunities for future cooperation.
With the support of the “Ten Cooperation Plans” raised in FOCAC Summit and “the Belt and Road” platform, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Eritrea will maintain close exchanges with the Eritrean government, creating favorable conditions for boosting ChinaEritrean cooperation, realizing advantage complementation, and achieving co-development. We will continue to consolidate and advance friendship between our two countries for the benefit of our two peoples.