New Blueprint for Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa

Ma Xinmin
Chinese Ambassador to Sudan

During his visit to three countries of Eritrea, Kenya, and Comorin at the beginning of 2022, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi formally put forth the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa which has been warmly received by Sudan and other countries in the region. Xue Bing, the first Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has recently paid visits to multiple countries in the Horn of Africa region to maintain communication and coordination on how to advance its implementation.

As a common friend to the Horn of Africa countries, China has always been committed to promoting peace, stability, and development in this region. To help you gain a bettering understanding of the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa, I would like to introduce more information in this article.

  1. Renew Friendship to Serve the Common Good

The Horn of Africa countries and China are connected by a lasting bond of friendship. As early as Ming Dynasty, the Chinese navigator Zheng He led fleets to Somalia, Kenya, and other countries where they demonstrated kindness and friendship to the Chinese people. As we know, the Horn of Africa is a subregion of the African continent with geographically strategic importance, abundant resources, and enormous potential. China always emphasizes friendship and cooperation with countries in the region.

The two main axes of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway and the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway built by Chinese enterprises are now playing their role in facilitating the economic development in the Horn of Africa region. Efforts are also underway to accelerate the Belt and Road cooperation along the coasts of the Red Sea and East Africa. This forms a development framework of “two axes plus two coastal areas” that will serve as the main driver of regional development in its journey toward prosperity.

The Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa proposed by China is expected to play a bigger role in promoting regional peace and development and help this region achieve peace, prosperity, and long-term stability. This is the original intention and ultimate goal of such an outlook.

II. Forge Unity and Cooperation to Strive for Revival

China insists that Africa belongs to the people of Africa and African issues should be determined by the people of Africa. The core of the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa is to support regional countries to get rid of major powers’ geopolitical competition and firmly take the path of unity and self-improvement, thus making sure the region’s future remains firmly in their own hands. Specifically, the main content of the outlook has three aspects.

First, intra-regional dialogue needs to be strengthened to overcome security challenges. China believes that regional issues should be tackled by regional countries through negotiation and consultation. As part of efforts to strengthen intra-regional dialogue, China calls on countries in the region to hold a peace conference for the Horn of Africa, whereby a political consensus about jointly safeguarding peace and safety is expected to be formed. The purpose of China’s appointment of the special envoy is simply to offer the necessary support for making such a peace conference possible.

Second, regional revitalization needs to be accelerated to overcome development challenges. The Chinese side proposes strengthening the two main axes of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway and the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway while accelerating the development along the coasts of the Red Sea and East Africa, to set up a development framework of “two axes plus two coastal areas”.

Doing so will enable countries in the region to improve their capability of independent development, and create fundamental conditions for achieving peace and stability and thus improving people’s wellbeing.

Third, effective ways need to be explored to overcome governance challenges. China supports regional countries in finding development paths that suit their conditions and stands ready to enhance exchanges with them on national governance, with useful experience to break through governance bottlenecks.

China also supports them in properly resolving ethnic, religious, and regional disputes in African ways, and building a united, stable, and harmonious environment in favor of the development of the Horn of Africa. China will assist regional countries in seeking effective resolutions to governance challenges.

III. Meet Challenges Together to Open up New Prospects

Sudan is an important state in the Horn of Africa. After China has proposed the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa and appointed the Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sudan expressed in a statement its support for the outlook.

It demonstrates the sincerity and willingness of the Sudanese side to advance the outlook’s implementation through joint efforts with China. To this end, China will continue to ramp up cooperation with Sudan to facilitate the implementation in three ways.

The first is to improve mediation to jointly ensure regional peace and stability. As the region is beset by frequent conflicts, China welcomes and expects Sudan’s active engagement in the peace conference for the Horn of Africa whereby it could meet challenges together with other countries in the region. Its participation will be a contribution to achieving peace, prosperity, and long-term stability in the region.

The second is to deepen our results-oriented cooperation to jointly improve the economy and people’s well-being. While advancing the implementation of “nine programs” announced on the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), China will take it as an opportunity to scale up cooperation with Sudan in major areas, including special resource industries like agriculture, animal husbandry, energy, and mining sectors, economic development of regions bordering the Red Sea and the Nile, and construction of such infrastructure as airports, harbors, and satellite navigation.

We expect early delivery of the China-Aid slaughterhouse project, the locomotive project, and the mineral exploration and exploitation project. Through extensive efforts to foster business and investment cooperation between the two sides, we will be able to boost Sudan’s economic transformation and bring benefit to a wider group of people.

The third is to further policy communication to jointly discuss good approaches to state governance. China will continue to firmly support Sudan in adhering to a development path suited to its national conditions and safeguarding social peace and stability. China will firmly oppose the interference of any external forces in Sudan’s internal affairs.

What’s more, China is willing to enhance policy communication with Sudan and deepen exchanges of good practices on state governance and development, hoping this will contribute wisdom to closer friendship and cooperation between the two sides.

Looking ahead, in the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation which features sincere friendship and equality, win-win for mutual benefit and common development, fairness and justice, and progress with the times and openness and inclusiveness, China will keep its active efforts up to put the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa into action, in a bid to give new impetus to the mission of building a China-Africa Community with a Shared Future in the New Era.

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