Finally, the Chinese government sent its senior diplomat to Addis Ababa with a large entourage of aides. Foreign Affairs Minister, Wang Yi, was here last week on a three-day official visit, during a period when his country’s relations with Ethiopia reached a delicate point, gossip observed.
Yi is not new to dropping by in Addis Ababa; he was here a year and a half ago meeting former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. The environment then was completely different from what he might have experienced last week, gossip noted.
During Hailemariam’s tenure, the China-Ethiopia relationship was perhaps at the height of its stature where Chinese authorities accepted Ethiopia as their partner for “comprehensive strategic cooperation,” a rare privilege they grant to countries in Africa and beyond. They believed Ethiopia exemplified China’s relations with Africa that is based on cooperation in a production capacity.
China’s involvement in Ethiopia has deepened dramatically in areas of trade, investment and infrastructure financing since the early 1990s when foreign direct investment was less than 200,000 dollars. Compare this to today when China occupies a quarter of four billion dollars in FDI and a wobbling 13 billion dollars in concessional loans two years ago. Ethiopia sold China 240 million dollars worth of goods in 2016, while it imported 3.8 billion dollars worth of mostly manufactured items.