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Ethiopia-China relations: an excellent model for South-South cooperation

Ethiopia-China relations: an excellent model for South-South cooperation

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Wang Yi,  Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China

Fifty years ago, the first Premier of the New China, Zhou Enlai, visited Ethiopia during his first trip to Africa. He was warmly welcomed by the Ethiopian Government and people, and his visit provided a fresh start to friendly Ethiopia-China relations. Fifty years later, Chinese President Xi Jinping, during his first visit as President to Africa, 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 as Premier. Ethiopia and China have, indeed, attached great importance to the development of bilateral relations. They regard each other as offering priorities for strategic foreign policy choices.

Ethiopia and China are both heirs of ancient civilizations and fifty years may only be a short phase in our long histories, but the fruitful achievements those years have given Ethiopia-China relations is something our two peoples can be proud of and cherish.

Ethiopia and China are natural partners. 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, Ethiopia and China 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, sharing both happiness and adversity, rejoicing in successes that the other has achieved. In a nutshell, Ethiopian-China relations have become a real and excellent model for South-South Cooperation.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1970, and even more following the start of the Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership in 2003, Ethiopia-China relations have developed rapidly. They have now reached their highest 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 very successful visit to China last year and in the same year 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 our bilateral relations.

This has been apparent in many areas. Between 2003 and 2013, the yearly volume of bilateral trade between Ethiopia and China increased by 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. These include the first Express Toll Way and the first operative Wind Power Plant, the Addis Ababa Light Track Railway and other modern railways developments as well as the Tirunesh-Beijing Hospital and the Confucius Institute. They are vivid illustrations of our fruitful and comprehensive relationship.

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