Foreign minister meets Ethiopia's top officials on first leg of five-nation tour
Peace in conflict-hit areas, mutual respect and pragmatic cooperation are high on the agenda of the visit to Ethiopia and the African Union's headquarters by Qin Gang, China's new foreign minister.
Ethiopia is the first leg of Qin's Africa tour — his first trip abroad as foreign minister — from Monday to Jan 16. Qin is also scheduled to visit four other African nations — Gabon, Angola, Benin and Egypt.
Observers said Qin's visit not only gives a needed boost to political and economic ties, but also displays Beijing's unchanged commitment to much-needed peace and prosperity in Africa.
On Wednesday, Qin held the eighth strategic dialogue between China and the African Union with Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, at the organization's headquarters in Addis Ababa.
Qin reaffirmed Beijing's support for the AU joining the G20, saying that China is ready to further champion the interests of the vast number of developing countries.
Faki praised China's support for Africa, particularly in areas such as the continent's integration and interconnectivity.
Both Qin and Faki also attended the project completion ceremony of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The project is another highlight of China-Africa cooperation, and China never writes a "blank check", Qin said, noting that China will transfer the headquarters to African friends and the AU will take charge of its operations.
The building is a testimony of China's always supporting Africa with tangible actions, he added.
At a news conference in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, Qin reaffirmed China's commitment to its Initiative of Peaceful Development in the Horn of Africa, which was first proposed by the nation at the beginning of last year to support countries seeking security and prosperity in the conflict-hit region.
China has provided food, vaccines and other humanitarian aid to Ethiopia, and it "will continue to do so" and actively participate in the reconstruction of conflict-affected areas, Qin said.
China calls on the international community to increase humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia and support the reconstruction and socioeconomic development of affected areas, he added.
On Tuesday, Qin met Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and also had a meeting with Demeke Mekonnen Hassen, the nation's deputy prime minister and foreign minister.
The two countries have been actively co-building the Belt and Road, and China has remained the largest source of foreign direct investment and the largest trade partner of Ethiopia for several years.
He Wenping, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of West-Asian and African Studies, said, "Development is the most important and hottest issue for African countries".
The Belt and Road Initiative, first proposed by China as early as 2013, now includes almost the entire African continent, she noted.
"Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, China-Africa teamwork on BRI has shown strong resilience and vitality, and it continues to move forward, bringing real benefits to Africa's development," she added.