China and Ethiopia have forged a sincere friendship over the past 50 years and are seizing the opportunities to deepen their relations
Fifty years ago, New China’s first premier Zhou Enlai visited Ethiopia during his maiden trip to Africa. He was warmly welcomed by the Ethiopian Government and people, and his visit started friendly relations between the two countries. Fifty years later, Chinese President Xi Jinping, during his first visit to Africa after he took office, made a point of arranging a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also chose Ethiopia as the start of his first trip to Africa. China and Ethiopia, indeed, attach great importance to the bilateral relations. They regard each other as offering priorities for strategic foreign policy choices.
Ethiopia and China are both heirs of ancient civilizations and 50 years are only a short period of time in our long histories, but the fruitful achievements of those years have forged China-Ethiopia relations our two peoples can be proud of and cherish.
In the past we have both suffered foreign invasion and shared the same feelings towards invaders. We both follow an independent foreign policy and share the belief that development is the top priority for national renaissance. We have provided mutual support on major issues concerning each other’s core interests, and have shared ideas, learnt from each other’s experiences of governance and explored the paths of development suitable for our respective national conditions. Indeed, on the basis of the principles of equality, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, China and Ethiopia have developed multi-dimensional relations, with people-to-people, business-to-business, government-to-government and party-to-party relations as the cornerstones of the relationship. We are sincere friends, reliable partners and good brothers who share both happiness and adversity, each rejoicing in the successes the other has achieved. In a nutshell, China-Ethiopian relations have become a real and excellent model for South-South Cooperation.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1970, and even more after the launch of their Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership in 2003, China-Ethiopia relations have developed rapidly, and they have reached a high qualitative level. The leaders of the two countries have established close working relations and a personal friendship. Last year, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn met twice on different occasions. Prime Minister Hailemariam paid a successful visit to China last year and there were also the visits of the Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister to China and of two Chinese Vice-Premiers to Ethiopia. The fruitful official visit by Premier Li Keqiang to Ethiopia in May this year and the successful state visit by President Mulatu Teshome to China in July also injected strong momentum into the continued development of bilateral relations.
This has been apparent in many areas. Between 2003 and 2013, the yearly volume of bilateral trade increased more than 13 times. China has become the biggest foreign investor and the largest trading partner of Ethiopia. Ethiopia is now one of the main markets in Africa for Chinese products, equipment, technology and investment. Since 2006, China, through various mechanisms, has provided a large amount of financial support for the construction of a number of Ethiopia’s mega projects, including the first express tollway and the first operative wind power plant, the Addis Ababa Light Track Railway and other modern railway developments, as well as the Tirunesh-Beijing Hospital and the Confucius Institute. These are all vivid illustrations of our fruitful and comprehensive relationship.
In the international arena, China and Ethiopia are working closely together to address global challenges including climate change, food insecurity, poverty and regional conflicts, and to promote China-Africa relations within the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and to safeguard the interests of developing countries generally.
Within the context of globalization, China is unwaveringly pursuing its Chinese Dream and has been deepening the comprehensive reforms involved in realizing this. Similarly, Ethiopia is committed to its Ethiopian Renaissance, to fulfilling its five-year Growth and Transformation Plan and achieving its Vision 2025 to become a middle income country. China is now the second-largest economy in the world; and Ethiopia is emerging as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and the world. Given our complementary needs, both countries are looking forward to greater opportunities for in-depth cooperation, and we are promoting bilateral relations in a number of areas.
In the first place, we will maintain the momentum of high level exchanges as the driving force for deepening and upgrading our relationship. Second, we will continue to deepen cooperation in infrastructure construction and the development of industry, establishing more special economic zones. For China, Ethiopia is a large market with great potential and an important investment destination; for Ethiopia, China is a major source for the transfer of industrial capacity and technology. We will not only be able to improve the infrastructure in Ethiopia, but we will also work together for regional connectivity, including establishment of transportation networks, electricity and telecommunication links. Third, the two countries can tap into the great potential for cooperation in the fields of agriculture and mining and energy, especially green, clean, sustainable energy, and we can upgrade our cooperation to a fully-fledged strategic partnership. Fourth, we will be promoting cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and a Chinese Cultural Center will soon be established in Ethiopia, enhancing mutual understanding between our two peoples, and promoting the knowledge of our impressive and important civilizations. Fifth, we will continue to strengthen coordination and cooperation on international issues and promote China-Africa relations steadily through our joint efforts. We will continue to make new contributions to maintaining the peace, stability and prosperity of Africa and the world, and promote the establishment of a new, more rational and fairer international political and economic order. We will contribute towards the realization of the goal of a peaceful and prosperous Africa.
China and Ethiopia will continue to join hands to bring about an expanded and upgraded model of bilateral relations. We have no doubt the China-Ethiopia relationship will benefit and provide a brighter future for both our peoples and for us all.