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Djibouti - China Relations

After Djibouti gained independence from France in 1977, China quickly moved to develop the Sino-Djiboutian relationship, mostly through large construction projects. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations China and Djibouti, bilateral economic and trade cooperation has witnessed a steady development. The two countries signed an agreement on economic and technical cooperation. Since 1979, China has provided Djibouti with aid projects including the USD 10 million "People's Palace" conference center in 1983 and the USD 11 million sports stadium in 1991. Smaller grants financed a new wing of the main public hospital in 1997, and a new building for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001.

Cooperation between the two sides began in 1982. By the end of June of 2002, there had been 478 contracts for service cooperation signed between the two sides. China's companies working on projects in Djibouti are the China Construction Engineering Co., China Civil Engineering Corp and some other Chinese companies. They have undertaken such projects as the construction of school and bank in Djibouti. In 1998, China and Djibouti signed a Agreement on Trade between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of Djibouti. The trade volume between the two countries in 2002 stood at US$ 49.83 million, among which China's export was US$49.81 million, and import US$20,000.

President Guelleh's 2001 visit to China with a group of government officials and business people significantly boosted Sino-Djiboutian business links. Djibouti has invested heavily in Chinese communications technology, working with the Chinese companies ZTE and Huawei on fixed and mobile phone networks and Internet technology. Chinese construction companies are also active in Djibouti's building boom. While Chinese companies and products often are extremely competitive in the Djiboutian market based on price alone, there have been some complaints about poor-quality after-sales service and follow-up by Chinese suppliers, especially from state-run telecommunications monopoly Djibouti Telecom. There have also been reports that Chinese companies may sometimes resort to bribery to win contracts.

By 2008 the Chinese influence in Djibouti was nowhere near as strong as the French or the U.S. influence, but it was visible, continuous and growing. Chinese influence was prevalent in both private and public sector projects. On the government-government level, each year in July/August the Chinese government invited officials from different departments of the Djiboutian Government for a 15-day tour in China. Travel and accommodations are paid for by the Chinese government. Members of the Defense Ministry, Parliament, the Presidency, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have visited China on these trips.

By 22 November 2015 the Ethio-Djibouti rail project, which is being carried out by two Chinese companies succeeded in temporary freight transportation of emergency supplies. The first cargo, carrying 1125 tons of wheat from Djibouti arrived on Saturday in Merebe Mermersa, approximately 112 km south of Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian government has purchased large quantities of wheat to support people in the areas affected by recent droughts.

The 756 km Ethio-Djibouti railway is being constructed by China Railway Group (CREC) from Sebeta/Addis Ababa to Miesso and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is responsible for the Miesso to Djibouti section.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi Met the Press 2016/03/09. He said " ... China's growing overseas interests. I think it is the key to understanding the matter.

"Like any major country that is growing, China's overseas interests are expanding. At present, there are 30,000 Chinese businesses all over the world and several million Chinese are working and living in all corners of the world. Last year, China's non-financial outbound direct investment reached 118 billion dollars and the stock of China's overseas assets reached several trillion dollars. So it has become a pressing task for China's diplomacy to better protect our ever-growing overseas interests.

"How to do it? Let me state on the record that China will not take the old path of expansionism followed by traditional powers, and we will not engage in any form of power politics. Rather, we want to pioneer a uniquely Chinese way to protect our overseas interests, one that is in tune with the trend of the times and welcomed by the other parties.

"First, China is willing to take on more international security responsibilities. Since 2008, Chinese navy has conducted escort missions off the Somali coast. So far, we have dispatched 22 fleets to escort over 6,000 Chinese and foreign ships passing through those waters. China is the biggest contributor of peacekeeping personnel among the five permanent members of the Security Council. We are also the second largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget.

"Second, responding to actual needs and the wishes of the countries in question, we are trying to build some necessary infrastructure and logistical capacities in regions with a concentration of Chinese interests. This is not just reasonable and logical, but also consistent with international practice.

"And third, we want to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries, including law enforcement and security cooperation. At the same time, we will play a constructive role in the political settlement of international and regional issues, so as to create a more secure and stable environment for China's development overseas."

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Page last modified: 16-07-2017 18:01:41 ZULU