NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – China’s foreign minister has said that Africa should not be a platform for international competition.
“Africa should be a key stage for international cooperation, not a place where powerful nations compete with one another,” said Qin Gang, speaking in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa while launching the Chinese-built Africa Centers for Disease Control (Africa CDC) headquarters.
In their meetings, Gang and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat spoke on numerous matters pertaining to the connection between China and Africa.
Mahamat, for his part, said they held wide-ranging discussions on how to deepen the already strong strategic partnership between the African Union and China for the continued benefit of their peoples.
In a joint press conference with Qin, Mahamat said the absence of a permanent representation for Africa on the UN Security Council is a pressing problem as the council’s agenda focuses mostly on and concerns African nations.
“We are open to cooperation and partnership with everybody, but our principles, our priorities and our interests have to be respected,” Mahamat said.
According to officials at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the first phase of the Africa CDC headquarters has been completed and the remaining construction will be finished soon.
The 40,000-square-meter building is equipped with modern gear to help the agency fight diseases in Africa. It features a training and conference room, laboratory, information room, emergency room and other essential rooms.
The Africa CDC headquarters is a flagship project of China-Africa cooperation announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit in 2018.
Qin’s visit to Ethiopia builds on China’s more than three-decade tradition of prioritizing Africa in its public diplomacy, Hassan Khanenje, director of the HORN International Institute for Strategic Studies mentioned, adding that China has been building a lot of soft power with the continent for much of the post-Cold War period.
“And right now, it’s paying dividends. If you look at the extent and the degree of investment, even just starting with Ethiopia, many African countries have been extremely receptive to Chinese investment,” Khanenje said.
Khanenje lauded the move to inaugurate a CDC headquarters for Africa, noting that any contribution in terms of fighting disease and pandemics is something that is always going to be welcomed by African countries.
“Inaugurating the CDC center is part of an extension of soft diplomacy or soft power by China. But it’s something that, of course, is going to add to Africa’s own capacity to be able to respond to the challenges of the continent,” he added.
After Ethiopia, Qin will visit Angola, Benin, Gabon and Egypt.