African and Chinese officials have reiterated that Africa and China should further strengthen relations through enhancing people-to-people exchange and mutual understanding towards common agenda of development and prosperity.
The China Public Diplomacy Association, the Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia and China’s mission to the African Union (AU) on Friday jointly organized a seminar under the theme, “China-Africa: People-to-people Exchange for Mutual Learning,” in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.
In his opening remarks, Tan Jian, Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia, expressed China’s keen interest to further strengthen the relation and cooperation between China and Africa within the main pillars of the Belt and Road initiative.
The ambassador noted that China has been actively advancing the Belt and Road initiative with the firm support from Ethiopia and other African countries.
Regarding the Ethio-China relations, the two countries have enjoyed comprehensive and rapid development in recent years, he said, adding that the relationship has been elevated to comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership as jointly stated by top leaders of the two countries last year.
He stated that there are five pillars within the Belt and Road initiative, including, policy connection; facility connection; trade connection; financial connection; and also people-to-people connection.
“To date, the Belt and Road initiative has achieved several landmark harvests in Ethiopia, thanks to the joint efforts by our two sides, like the Chinese-built Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway and Chinese investment in many local industrial parks,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Hailekiros Gessesse, Chairperson of the Ethiopia-China People’s Friendship Association (ECPFA) Steering Committee, hailed the contribution from China to the overall economic growth in Africa through investment in different sectors.
Stating that the Chinese have invested in important areas such as infrastructure and social sectors, Hailekiros, who is also former ambassador of Ethiopia to China, said Africa and China have been cooperating on the basis of mutual understanding since several hundred years ago, as the first Chinese arrived in Africa more than 600 years ago.
“Ever since, what we have experienced with the Chinese was mutual understanding, mutual working together for the wellbeing of our people,” he said.
The Deputy Head of China’s Mission to AU, Chen Xufeng, reiterated on the occasion that the China-Africa relations have consolidated and flourished over the past six decades.
“It is a relationship characterized as sharing weal and woe, equality and mutual benefits, sincerity and all-round cooperation,” he said, emphasizing that the relationship must extend beyond “the halls of governments to our communities, businesses and schools.”
Hailing the solidarity of China with Africa, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission Kwesi Quartey noted that the pan-African bloc has been endeavoring to address poverty in Africa and integrate the continent with initiatives such as the African continental free trade area, on which AU works with China.
“I am saying this to contrast the attitude of the Chinese comrades and the attitude of the western forces. This attitude is exemplified today by the gift from the Chinese government of the whole conference center and the headquarters of the African Union,” he said.
“Because basically, Chinese ideas about peoples’ development, about all inclusive development coincides with the communalism of the African people,” he added.