Beijing pins high hopes on partnership and collaboration with African and Arab countries at the start of the new year as Foreign Minister Qin Gang embarks on his first trip abroad since being appointed to the post.
Observers said this is the 33rd consecutive year in which Africa has been the destination of the first overseas visit of the year by China's foreign minister, part of Beijing's substantial actions to honor its commitment to working for the well-being of developing countries.
From Monday to Jan 16, Qin is scheduled to visit five African nations — Ethiopia, Gabon, Angola, Benin and Egypt — as well as the headquarters of two major regional groupings, the African Union and the League of Arab States.
During his visit to Africa, the foreign minister will meet and talk with leaders and foreign ministers of the five countries and Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission.
China has been Africa's largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years.
In the first half of 2022, total trade between China and Africa reached $137.38 billion, a year-on-year increase of 16.6 percent, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that the visit "shows the great importance China attaches to the traditional friendship between China and Africa and to the growth of China-Africa relations".
Making the remark while speaking to reporters on Monday, Wang said, "Currently, China-Africa relations are flourishing and entering a new era of building a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future."
During the African trip, Qin will exchange views with those he visits on bilateral relations and international and regional issues of common concern.
"China will continue to follow the principle of sincerity, real results, friendship and good faith, and the principle of pursuing the greater good and shared interests," Wang added.
Chen Xulong, a professor of multilateral diplomacy and United Nations reform studies at the University of International Business and Economics' School of International Relations, said that "unity with the vast number of developing countries, including African nations, has served as a cornerstone of China's diplomacy".
Chinese foreign ministers visiting Africa every year has been an outstanding feature of Beijing's diplomacy, and China's diplomacy in the new era underscores ties with Africa as well, he noted.
"China has always valued, respected and supported Africa, it never sought geopolitical self-interest in and never imposed its will on Africa," he said.
During Qin's visit to Egypt, he will also meet with Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, secretary-general of the Arab League.
President Xi Jinping attended the first China-Arab Summit on Dec 9, together with leaders of 21 Arab countries and heads of organizations, including Aboul-Gheit.
The summit was the largest-scale and highest-profile diplomatic interaction that China had engaged in with the Arab world since the founding of the People's Republic of China, Chinese officials said.
"China is willing to work with the Arab world to make every effort to build a China-Arab community with a shared future in the new era, safeguard the common interests of developing countries, and promote world and regional peace and stability," said Wang, the Foreign Ministry spokesman.