2021 is a crucial year for Sudan as the country is making a new, vital step in its political transition. Despite the grave challenges posed by the epidemic and floods both unseen in a century, Sudan has made positive progress in its peace process and achieved major breakthroughs in rejoining the international community.
Close interactions at top levels
The Chinese President Xi Jinping and President of Sudan's Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan exchanged congratulatory messages for China's National Day on October 1, 2020 and for Sudan's Independence Day on January 1, while Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister of the Sudanese transitional government Abdalla Hamdok on April 16, 2020, and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Sudanese counterpart on May 8, spoke by phone respectively on solidarity against COVID-19, deepening of bilateral relationship, and enhanced coordination in regional and international affairs.
This year, Sudanese President Burhan extended a congratulatory message to President Xi on the centennial of the founding of the Communist Party of China.
China speaks up for Sudan at the UN Security Council and other international forums to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Sudan. As part of its efforts to support and play a constructive role in Sudan's smooth political transition, China had the Special Representative of the Chinese Government on African Affairs Xu Jinghu attend the ministerial conference of Sudan Partnership. Sudan categorically backs China on issues concerning Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet, Taiwan, human rights and COVID-19 origins-tracing, as well as other China-related issues. These interactions enable us to keep the political mutual trust at a high level.
Concerted efforts against COVID-19
The long-lasting friendship between China and Sudan has stood the test of COVID-19 and grew even firmer. A 20-member medical expert group was also sent by the Chinese government to Sudan. To date, China has donated to Sudan anti-epidemic medical supplies in 19 batches and 250,000 doses of vaccines, and pledged to provide 400,000 more doses to the Sudanese side. The joint efforts of the two countries to fight COVID-19 are another good example of unity and cooperation and will go down in the annals of China-Sudan relationship.
Broadened mutually-beneficial cooperation
Bilateral cooperation on oil, infrastructure, agriculture, mining and other areas has maintained momentum. Despite hardships, satisfactory progress has been made in major cooperation projects, including the signing of the implementation agreement for the China-aid slaughter house project, the signing of the cooperation agreement between CRRC Ziyang Co and Sudan Railways Corporation, and the signing of the cooperation agreement for mineral exploration and exploitation between Wanbao Mining and Sudan's Ministry of Energy and Mining. In 2021, the area of the new cotton variety "Seeni 1" grew by the Chinese Shandong-based New Epoch Agricultural Development Company has reached 10,000 hectares, creating 30,000 jobs for 2,500 rural households and dramatically improving the life of local farmers.
Closer people-to-people exchanges
China and Sudan have seen friendship gain increasing public support and people-to-people exchanges thrive. For long, China has trained various professional personnel for Sudan. This year, the Chinese Embassy in Sudan launched the "Chinese Ambassador's Book House" in the Department of Chinese Language at the University of Khartoum. The embassy is building "China-Sudan Friendship Schools" together with three local primary and secondary schools.
A series of activities was organized, including the "Chinese Culture Day" held in the University of Khartoum, the special performance in celebration of the centennial of the founding of the Communist Party of China staged by the Sudan Acrobatic Troupe.
As Sudan is currently in a period of political, economic and social transformations, bilateral relationship is faced with unprecedented challenges and opportunities. China stands ready to join hands with Sudan for common development and shared future.
First, we need to promote communication and exchanges among all sectors between the two sides, and jointly lift our political mutual trust to a new height. We should actively implement the consensus reached between the two leaders, and inherit and carry forward the traditional friendship between the two countries.
Second, we need to fight COVID-19 through unity and mutual assistance, and jointly push for new progress in our medical cooperation.
Our cooperation on COVID-19 response, medicine, public health governance, capacity building and medical infrastructure also needs to be strengthened.
Third, we need to explore new areas for bilateral cooperation, and jointly make new gains in our practical cooperation. On the basis of rich natural resources of Sudan, we should continue to tap into our complementarity and the potential of bilateral cooperation to create new growth drivers. Under the framework of the Belt and Road cooperation, FOCAC and CASCF, we should enhance cooperation on several major fronts, namely agricultural, animal husbandry, energy and mining sectors, economy of regions bordering the Red Sea and the Nile, and construction of infrastructure like airports, harbors and satellite navigation.
Fourth, we need to maintain cultural and people-to-people exchanges with higher quality and in a more effective manner, and jointly make a new step toward closer ties between the two peoples. We should work actively to expand people-to-people exchanges and cultural cooperation in more fields, one of the "Eight Major Initiatives" proposed at the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, by means of expanding our dialogue and exchanges in education and culture and among youth, women, media, think tanks and civil organizations, promoting Chinese language learning, and carrying out cultural exchanges.
As a Chinese saying goes, "It is the right time to set sail with the fair wind." The second China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo (CAETE) is around the corner. As the sole platform for economic and trade cooperation operated under the FOCAC mechanism, the CAETE is an arena with tremendous potential for a wide range of business activities. We believe that with strong cooperation between China and other African countries, the second CAETE will certainly be another grand occasion to deepen high-quality economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa.
The author of this article is the Chinese Ambassador to Sudan