Chinese envoy appointment marks deeper ties with Horn of Africa

For more than three decades, Chinese foreign ministers have started the year with a trip to Africa.This year’s visit came with a surprise – announcing China’s first “Special” Politics An envoy in the Horn of Africa and a possible shift in Beijing’s longstanding policy of non-intervention.

In January, the foreign minister Wang Yi announced He will appoint a special envoy to promote “lasting stability, peace and prosperity” in the Horn of Africa, where “hot issues have intensified and sometimes conflicts have erupted”.

The announcement is in the king’s Eritrea, Kenya and Comoros Tour, can be seen in part as an attempt to anger the United States and other Western powers whose diplomatic efforts are aimed at ending Ethiopian Civil War And protecting Sudan’s democratic transition is largely in limbo.

Analysts said the bigger reason for the appointment was to better protect Chinese investments and loans in the Horn of Africa amid escalating violence.

For many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, China remains the largest bilateral lender, accounting for about a fifth of all lending. Annual lending peaked at $29.5 billion in 2016, but fell back to $7.6 billion in 2019, according to data from the Johns Hopkins China-Africa Research Program.

Ethiopia has been a big source of Chinese loans and investment. This includes funding for the railway from Addis Ababa to Djibouti and the expansion of Addis Ababa airport, Africa’s largest aviation hub. In addition to the unrest in Khartoum and Tigray, there has also been a surge in jihadist attacks in Somalia and continued Fighting in parts of South Sudan. Islamic militant al-Shabab even have invaded ram ——China has completed the construction of port berths.

“There is a reason to focus on conflict, peace and security, which was not a policy priority before,” said Hannah Ryder, a senior associate in Kenya for non-residents at the CSIS Africa Program, a think tank. “For some Chinese companies, for example in Ethiopia, it can be more challenging to continue investing in the event of a conflict, so how can China help create the conditions to reduce conflict.”

Since Xi Jinping took office in 2012, China has played down its official non-interference policy of more than 60 years.Beijing under Xi Jinping established the first Djibouti overseas naval base, passed a law allowing soldiers to be stationed abroad. Chinese peacekeepers have been killed in South Sudan, where China has important oil interests.However, Xi Jinping said at the Triennial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Senegal in November, Beijing will reduce its funding to Africa by a third to $40 billion over the next three years.

New U.S. envoy David Satterfield comes as China announces new envoy Arrive in Sudan Join Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Fey this week for crisis talks against the backdrop of a bloody crackdown and travel to Ethiopia. He replaced Jeffrey Feltman, who tried unsuccessfully to quell both conflicts.

What kind of influence Beijing will have in practice remains unclear if the new envoy pushes for peace talks.During a visit to Addis Ababa last monthWang Yi said, “We do not interfere in Ethiopia’s internal affairs, and we also oppose any external forces interfering in Ethiopia’s internal affairs, especially disagreeing with Ethiopia’s internal affairs.” The practice of some external forces putting pressure on Ethiopia.”

The practice is generally welcomed by some Horn of Africa countries, especially imposed by Washington Sanctions on Ethiopia and Eritrea last year. When the king went to Addis, he “reaffirmed his government’s support for the Ethiopian government and people”, Gabriel Negato wrote, Ethiopian Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council Africa Centre. “It’s the contrasting friendship and influence that America misses.”

Regardless of the actions of the new Chinese envoy, Ryder said: “China says we are a different type of development partner, even a peace and security partner — that’s for sure.”

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