The diplomatic protocol of the Chinese foreign minister beginning a year’s foreign visits in Africa highlights the distinct Chinese characteristics and style in its relations with Africa. For more than 30 years, such visits have allowed Chinese foreign ministers to engage in face-to-face discussions and learn first-hand about the economic and social development in Africa, thereby helping China to deepen its understanding of the continent and adjust its Africa policies.
These visits reflect China’s diplomatic philosophy of integrating knowledge and action, its diplomatic principles of sincerity, real results, amity, and good faith, and its diplomatic approach of developing cooperation projects based on the needs of African nations.
From 13 to 18 January, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Egypt and Tunisia in North Africa, and Togo and Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa. This marks the 34th consecutive year of the Chinese foreign minister choosing Africa for the first foreign visit of the year.
Manifestation of mutual support
During Wang’s visit to Egypt, discussions were held with Egypt and the Arab League on the Palestinian question and the Israel-Palestine conflict, including the crisis in Gaza. A joint statement was issued, reflecting China’s role as a major country in promoting a comprehensive, just, and lasting settlement of the Palestinian problem.
The visit to Tunisia coincided with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Tunisia. Sixty years ago, late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai visited Tunisia, and the two countries announced the establishment of diplomatic ties, marking a memorable episode in the history of international diplomacy.
In Togo, which is to host the new session of the Pan-African Congress, Wang’s visit reflects China’s firm support for Africa’s integration and rejuvenation.
The foreign minister’s visit to Côte d’Ivoire, which was hosting the 34th Africa Cup of Nations, reflects China’s sincere blessings to the African people on this grand occasion. With China’s assistance, three stadiums, along with six electric buses, were delivered on time, making an indispensable contribution to the successful hosting of the tournament.
During the visit, China’s Taiwan Province announced the results of its election. While some countries rudely interfered in China’s internal affairs, violating the One-China Principle and creating confusion in the international community, the four African countries reaffirmed that there is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is a part of China.
In various forms, all 53 African countries that have diplomatic relations with China expressed their firm support for the One-China Principle and China’s peaceful reunification cause. This exemplifies the longstanding tradition of mutual support between China and Africa. In matters pertaining to China’s core interests and major concerns, African countries have shown a resolute and unequivocal stance.
China and Africa are partners on their road to achieving modernisation, a common aspiration of the Chinese and African peoples. Gathering more consensus between China and Africa in achieving modernisation is an important purpose of Wang’s visit.
During talks with his Togolese counterpart Robert Dussey, Wang pointed out that China is willing to expand all-round cooperation with Togo, implement cooperation projects well, help Togo to accelerate development, and jointly move towards modernisation.
In talks with Wang, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire Kacou Houadja Leon Adom said that Côte d’Ivoire is willing to continue developing vibrant relations with China, further expand mutually beneficial cooperation, learn from China’s experience, and find a modernisation path that suits Côte d’Ivoire’s conditions and characteristics.
During talks with Nabil Ammar, Tunisian minister of foreign affairs, migration and Tunisians abroad, Wang pointed out that China will promote the modernisation of the world with Chinese modernisation, and is ready to share its governance experience with Tunisia and support Tunisia in enhancing its capacity for independent development, so as to achieve common development and prosperity.
This visit to Africa has conveyed China’s firm support for African countries’ modernisation, indicating that China will always stand with Africa, firmly support African countries in safeguarding national sovereignty and dignity, in seeking strength from unity, and in exploring a development path that allows them to develop at an accelerated pace and independently.
Promoting practical cooperation
Promoting an upgrade of cooperation between China and Africa to keep pace with the times was also an important target of Wang’s visit. This autumn, the new session of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will be held in China. How to launch cooperation initiatives that meet the development needs of China and Africa in the new era is of great strategic significance for the successful holding of the forum.
Wang pointed out in an interview with Chinese media after concluding his visit to the four African countries that China-Africa cooperation, over the past few decades, especially since the establishment of the FOCAC 24 years ago, has achieved historic success, bringing great changes to Africa and garnering more attention for Africa from the international community.
At the same time, China is also working to upgrade China-Africa cooperation, so as to continue to lead international cooperation with Africa. As China is preparing for the new FOCAC session, Wang’s visit was aimed to learning about the needs and expectations of African countries as input for initiatives to be launched at the forum.
During talks with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Wang pointed out that both sides should deepen practical cooperation, make good use of cooperation mechanisms at various levels and in various areas, such as inter-government cooperation committees, and promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.
Togolese Prime Minister Victoire Sidemeho Tomegah Dogbe, when meeting with Wang, pointed out that FOCAC has played a crucial role in accelerating Africa’s development, and the nine programmes proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping have greatly benefited Togo. She expressed Togo’s readiness to cooperate with China in preparing for the new FOCAC session.
Wang and Adom also expressed commitment to jointly upgrading practical cooperation between China and Côte d’Ivoire in various fields including investment, infrastructure, education and training, and agriculture.
The past 34 years have witnessed humanity entering a new century, with China rising to become the world’s second-largest economy and Africa becoming an important pole with global influence. The world has experienced earth-shaking changes, but the original aspirations of China-Africa interactions have never changed, and China and Africa, hand in hand, are marching steadfastly towards a high-level community of shared future.
The author, Ma Hanzhi, is an assistant research fellow at the Department for Developing Countries Studies, China Institute of International Studies. African Times has published this article in partnership with ChinAfrica Magazine.