China plans peace envoy for Horn of Africa

i24NEWS - Reuters

3 min read
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) speaks with Kenya's Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo at the Sarova Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, January 6, 2022.
AP Photo//Gideon MaunduChina's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) speaks with Kenya's Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo at the Sarova Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, January 6, 2022.

China will also shift its focus in Africa from infrastructure to trade

China announced Thursday plans to appoint a special envoy to foster peace in the conflict-riven Horn of Africa.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi also noted that Beijing will shift focus in the continent from infrastructure to trade.

The Chinese official made the comments in Kenya, which is active in diplomatic efforts to halt the war in Ethiopia between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s federal government.

Wang also visited Eritrea, which borders the northern Tigray region and is an ally of Abiy in a conflict that has killed thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands, and is spreading hunger.

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The region's other major war is in Somalia, where the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab is battling a Western-backed government.

“China will appoint a special envoy of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs for the Horn of Africa,” Wang said at a news conference. 

“To share political consensus and to coordinate actions.”

He added that Horn of Africa nations should convene for a peace conference. 

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Eric Olander, managing editor of The China Africa Project podcast, considered Wang’s visit as a strategic move in China’s rivalry with the United States, which imposed sanctions on Eritrea for its role in Tigray.

"This is part of a big push to rally countries against the use of sanctions," he said.

"I think [China] feel they're gaining momentum against the US.”

Chinese officials signed six agreements with Kenyan counterparts, including one that will enable Kenya to narrow its trade imbalance with China and another that will see 10 million Covid vaccine doses sent to the African state.