Zeray Hailemariam from the Walta Information Centre interviewed the Chinese ambassador to Ethiopia, Gu Xiaojie, this week, about the relationship between the two countries and China’s special relationship which Africa.
China has had a relationship with Ethiopia for over 40 years. Gu Xiaojie said that the countries share mutual trust that there has been an increase in relations between the two countries.
According to Gu Xiaojie there are “healthy trade ties” between the two countries. China has invested heavily in Ethiopia’s National Network of Telecommunications. Its has also seen a 30% increase in imports from Ethiopia, while China’s exports to Ethiopia have also increased. Gu also said that China provides as much economic assistance to Ethiopia as it can, but that China’s ability to extend aid is limited because it is still a developing country. He emphasised that the relationship between the two countries is more than purely economical, saying there is also a relationship between the peoples of the two countries.
“The people to people relationship is the important one which laid foundation to the over all relations, we see more people coming from China to Ethiopia to do business, studying, working groups and other to get know each other.”
The Chinese ambassador believes that there are currently over 130 Chinese investors in Ethiopia. While in the past investment was more clear cut, it now appears that investors are diversifying their investments in the country.
“The unique characteristics of the Chinese investment are the ever growing interest of Chinese investors to invest in Ethiopia in diversification. Leather processing and building materials were the first investment sectors by Chinese in Ethiopia. But they are expanding and diversifying to other areas.”
Zeray Hailemariam asked the Chinese ambassador to Ethiopia about his views on China’s activities in Africa being labelled indirect colonialism. Gu Xiaojie argued that Africa has chosen Chinese involvement.
“From some media, I have read some irresponsible accusations made in this regards. What convincing them to do this unwarranted accusation against China could be the fact that African Governments and the people are in the best position to make a judgement on China’s involvement.”
Gu accused the Western media of portraying the Chinese government as only taking natural resources from Africa. He emphasized that the relationship between Africa and China is not colonial, but brotherly.
“China and Africa know how to treat each other on equal basis and of course the African people have acknowledged and developed sincerity to the Chinese helps.”
Gu Xiaojie also said that China wants to reduce carbon emissions as it recognises that the country has a fifth of the world’s population, but blamed developed nations, which have, he said, been polluting for decades. He said China is working with African countries to reduce emissions. For example, in the Africa China Cooperation Forum, it aims to develop new sources of clean energy with African countries.