Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing supports the economic reform Ethiopia is undergoing after meeting with his Ethiopian counterpart in Addis Abeba.
Ethiopia has been lauded by experts from China’s ruling Communist Party as a “model country” in Beijing’s $126 billion Belt and Road initiative to build rail, road and sea links tying China to Eurasia and Africa.
However, as the Horn of Africa nation of 100 million people faces debt distress, some reports say there are signs that China, a major creditor, is slowing financing to Ethiopia as doubts grow over the profitability of some infrastructure projects here.
After the meeting foreign minister WorknehGebeyehu on Thursday, Wang tried to debunk this doubt.
“Ethio- China relations is unshakeable and unbreakable as it is based upon solid political, economic, and social foundations,” he said.
“We support the economic reforms Ethiopia is undertaking,” he continued. “Ethiopia continues to be a strategic partner and reliable ally in Africa.”
“Friendship and cooperation will continue and there’s no policy change towards Ethiopia,” he said.
Ethiopia has been a top destination for Chinese loans in Africa, with state policy banks extending it more than $12.1 billion since 2000, according to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University of the United States.
While in Beijing for a China-Africa forum for cooperation in Beijing in September, Prime Minister Abiy had held successful talks with Chinese government officials over his country’s debt.
“During our stay, we had the opportunity to enact limited restructuring of some of our loans,” he said after his return in Addis Abeba. “In particular, the loan for the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway which was meant to be paid over 10 years has now been extended to 30 years.”
The deal was made amid rising concerns over debt distress, with the Ethiopian government’s debt reaching 59 percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product, according to official figures.
On Thursday DrWorkneh took the opportunity to thank the Government and peoples of China for its endeavor to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with Ethiopia.
Wang Yi also delivered another invitation from President of China Xi Jinping to Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed for the 2nd China Belt and Road Initiative to be held in Beijing at the end of April, this year.
Ethiopia and China established diplomatic relations in 1970. (Daily Monitor)