China’s top foreign envoy Qin announces partial debt relief for Ethiopia
AU commission chair says Africa’s lack of permanent representation on UN Security Council is ‘burning issue’
Addis Ababa — China’s foreign minister Qin Gang attended a ceremony at the new headquarters for the AU’s pan-African health body on Wednesday in the first leg of his five-country tour in Africa.
Qin visited facilities of the AU in Addis Ababa, including the new headquarters of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. China financed the complex’s construction, as it previously did for the headquarters of the AU itself, also based in the Ethiopian capital.
China is a major trading partner in Africa and it competes for influence with the US — which hosted leaders from 49 African countries in December — as well as Britain and France.
“Africa should be a big stage for the international co-operation, not an arena for major countries competition,” Qin said at a news conference with AU commission chair Moussa Faki.
Qin also emphasised China’s partnership with Africa in security and economic development.
Mahamat told a joint press conference later that Africa’s lack of permanent representation on the UN Security Council is a “burning issue” especially as many issues on the council’s agenda are related to African countries.
“It is unacceptable that others decide in the place of others. It is not fair. We need a new order at the international level which will respect the interests of others,” he said.
Read the full speech here.
A trusted aide of President Xi Jinping and former ambassador to the US, Qin was appointed foreign minister in December. His visit marks the 33rd consecutive year that Africa has been the destination of the Chinese foreign minister’s first overseas tour of the calendar year.
On Tuesday, Qin met Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other government officials, and announced a partial cancellation of Ethiopia’s debt to China during the visit, though neither side provided details. Ethiopia has borrowed $13.7bn from China since 2000 and has been seeking to restructure its debt to foreign lenders since 2021.
Qin will also visit Egypt, Angola, Benin and Gabon over the next week. Paul Nantulya, a research associate at the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, said the choice of countries reflected China's diversity of interests in Africa.
China has strong security ties to Egypt and Angola. Visiting Benin and Gabon shows ambitions to expand Beijing’s Belt and Roads infrastructure-building drive — long focused mainly on the Indian Ocean region — into western Africa, he told Voice of America radio.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.