Chinese President Xi Jinping and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki attend a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 15 2023. Picture: JOE CASH/REUTERS
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki arrived in Beijing last night for a four-day official visit at the invitation of President Xi Jinping. A visit, that of Afwerki, which comes at a significant stage, given that this year marks the thirtieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Eritrea, and that Asmara intends to offer a significant contribution to the consolidation of bilateral relations between the two countries last year they were upgraded to a strategic partnership. The visit to Beijing is not the first visit of the long-standing Eritrean president to China: the last time, however, was back in 2006 for the third summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Especially in recent years, Beijing and Asmara have strengthened their already solid ties, as evidenced by the fact that in 2021 Eritrea joined the New Silk Road initiative, the maxi infrastructure project launched by Beijing in developing countries. "China is a trusted friend of Eritrea and wants to strengthen cooperation with Asmara especially in the context of the instability and uncertainties that characterize the current international landscape," Xi said at the end of an interview held today with Afwerki in the Great sala del popolo, confirming the deep ties that unite the two countries. Beijing, continued the Chinese leader, considers relations with Asmara "from a long-term perspective" and considers the progress of the strategic partnership "of great importance for the maintenance of regional peace, as well as international equity and justice".
Chinese Premier Li Qiang, right, and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki shake hands as they attend a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, May 15, 2023.
China "appreciates Eritrea's adherence to an independent foreign policy, firmly supports it in pursuing a development path consistent with its national conditions, as well as protecting its sovereignty, security and development interests," Xi added, reaffirming "resolute opposition" to external interference in the affairs of the African state. China is therefore willing to deepen all-round exchanges with Eritrea, especially in the sector of infrastructure, mining, telecommunications and agriculture, not neglecting a strengthening of exchanges along the New Silk Road useful for "establishing mutually beneficial cooperation and to pursue common development”. The "deep friendship" that binds the two countries was also testified by the assistance guaranteed by Asmara in the process of evacuating Chinese citizens from Sudan, Xi added, according to which respect, assistance and mutual understanding will continue to be the backbone of China-Africa relations, “despite the changes in the international landscape. Africa is a land of great promise. In the current (international) context, China and the Continent must never before strengthen solidarity and cooperation to overcome difficulties together. Therefore, China is willing to cooperate to carry on the traditional friendship with Africa, consolidate mutual strategic trust, provide the continent with new opportunities under the high-quality development and Chinese-style modernization undertaken by the leading Asian power, and promote thoroughly bilateral cooperation” to build a community with a shared future, Xi concluded.