Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has started the year with a five-nation trip to Africa, continuing the good tradition of Chinese diplomacy whereby the foreign minister always begins his overseas visits with a trip to the continent.
As Wang said on Wednesday in Nigeria, the first port of call on his five-nation visit, Beijing attaches "great significance" to the "unbreakable friendship" between China and African countries, and offers "resolute support" for African nations in their pursuit of development.
Covering Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Seychelles, Wang said his trip is meant to convey "four clear messages" about Beijing's commitment to jointly building a "closer community with a shared future" with Africa. Namely that China will continue to contribute to Africa's anti-pandemic efforts, support the acceleration of African countries' economic recovery, upgrade bilateral cooperation, and help Africa expand its international influence.
Beijing has forged close relations with African countries through its commitment to stand beside them in weal and woe. As Wang said, "China and Africa are natural cooperation partners" and despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, China wanted to continue the 30-year tradition to strengthen strategic communication in this time of global turbulence.
Considering the special political and economic closeness China and African nations have cultivated over the past decades, especially since the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation 20 years ago, there is great potential to be tapped in bilateral collaboration. Besides the political support they have offered each other over the years, the two sides have increasingly unleashed the economic potential of their political intimacy.
The Beijing-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, for instance, promises boundless possibilities for enhancing the China-Africa connection. With Beijing and Kinshasa signing a memorandum of understanding on jointly promoting the construction of the Belt and Road during Wang's visit, the Democratic Republic of Congo has officially become the 45th African country to get on board the mammoth development initiative.
Beijing's show of support and practical assistance for Africa will not only help it combat the pandemic but also boost confidence in the continent's post-pandemic recovery and its longer-term development needs.
It would serve both sides better if Beijing's ambitious development programs for and in Africa found a more sympathetic international audience and resonance.