By Qiu Xuejun, Chinese Ambassador to Eritrea
China and Eritrea have maintained sound and healthy bilateral relations in all areas since establishing diplomatic relations. I still remember the heated atmosphere in Cinema Roma where the artist troupe from Inner Mongolia of China staged two performances of traditional Chinese culture in September 2015, some audience stood through the whole performance because there were no more empty seats.
Such a scene reflects, from one particular perspective, the everlasting friendship, close bond and affinity between the Chinese and Eritrean peoples developed over a long course of cooperation and common development.
And now I am confident to say that new opportunities have come for the further deepening of China-Eritrea relations and cooperation. On 4-5 December of 2015, the Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation themed “Africa-China Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development” (the FOCAC Summit) was held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The summit was a complete success and a truly historic grand event of milestone significance. During the Summit, China and Africa have come up with new plans, new blueprint and new momentum to jointly develop together.
The Summit reached a unanimous consensus from Chinese President Xi Jinping and African leaders to elevate China-Africa relations to comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership backed by a road map as embodied in five pillars and ten plans for further boosting mutually beneficial cooperation and common development.
The five pillars offer a more solid foundation. Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed that China and Africa should seek equality and mutual trust in politics, win-win cooperation in economy, mutual learning in civilization, mutual assistance in security and unity and coordination in international affairs. The five pillars make the layout of China-Africa relations more complete and the foundation of China-Africa relations more solid, and offer more comprehensive support for China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.
The ten plans represent an all-round blueprint suited for Africa. President Xi Jinping said that China will carry out practical cooperation with Africa in the ten major fields of industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, finance, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and people’s welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, as well as peace and security, which gained unanimous support and high praise from all African countries.
The ten cooperation plans constitute the essence of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Johannesburg Action Plan (2016-2018), serve as an all-round blueprint for China’s cooperation with Africa and symbolize that China-Africa relations will take a big stride and enter a new era.
To ensure the successful implementation of these ten cooperation plans, President Xi Jinping announced that China has decided to provide a total of US$60 billion of funding support. It includes US$5 billion of grant and zero-interest loans; US$35 billion of loans of concessional nature on more favorable terms and export credit line; an increase of US$5 billion to the China-Africa Development Fund and the Special Loan for the Development of African SMEs respectively; and the China-Africa Fund for Production Capacity Cooperation with an initial contribution of US$10 billion.
Based on the already sound and healthy China and Eritrean bilateral relations, we are now faced with greater opportunities to further deepen our relations in the following areas:
First, China and Eritrea share identical or similar views on international affairs such as the upholding of international justice, the principles of international law, the human rights etc., and support each other in the international arena. We should further consolidate our political cooperation based on these shared values.
Second, we should further deepen and diversify our economic win-win cooperation in the areas of industry, mining, agriculture, infrastructure such as roads, ports, aviation, solar power and telecommunication, and development of human resources, bringing more tangible and real benefits to our two peoples.
Third, we should encourage more exchanges between our two peoples at different levels in the areas of education, culture, sports, health, media, people’s organizations of workers, women, youth and students, thus further enhancing our mutual understanding, mutual learning and bringing the hearts of our two peoples closer, laying a solid social foundation for the long lasting friendship between our two countries.
Both the Chinese and Eritrean peoples are great peoples. We are all on our long march of nation building. China is striving for the achievement of the two Centenary Goals by the mid of the Century and Eritrea is moving steadfast on its road of development through resilience.
We are strong and good partners in this grand cause. Let’s join hands together and seize the opportunities to further deepen China-Eritrea cooperation in all areas to the benefit of our two countries and peoples to a larger extent.