Seychelles - China Relations
The Seychelles possess many excellent harbors. Seychelles Port of Victoria is located outside the cyclone belt with excellent sea connections with Europe, USA, Asia, and Africa. Port Victoria offers extensive facilities at its harbor and a well-developed infrastructure. Port Victoria on Mahe is the only official port of entry and exit in the Seychelles. Port Victoria in Seychelles was named the Leading Cruise Port award at the World Travel Awards (WTA). The World Travel Awards, known as the “Oscars of the Travel Industry,” presented the award at a glittering Gala Ceremony held at the Paradise Island Resort & Spa.
Seychelles Port Authority unveiled plans in 2017 for the expansion and modernization of Port Victoria. The existing quay of Port Victoria, currently 270 meters long, will be extended an additional 330 meters and will be able to accommodate two boats measuring up to 250 meters in length at the same time. The expansion followed a decision by the authority and the government to ensure that Seychelles remain the favorable port of call in the region. The project would cost around $107 million and is expected to start in late 2017 with the completion set for 2021.
China trained fifty Seychelles People's Defense Forces soldiers and was in discussion with Seychelles for its use as a resupply port for PLAN ships. Military cooperation was further enhanced in June 2013, when an escort fleet of the Chinese Navy called at the Port of Victoria for replenishment and paid a formal visit to Seychelles. The fleet hosted a reception on deck and a public open day. It sent an infantry square formation to join the Seychellois National Day parade at its invitation.
In December 2011 the Chinese Navy was considering taking on supplies in the Seychelles while conducting escort missions to tackle piracy. Chinese military experts stressed that the move did not equate to establishing military bases. "According to escort needs and the needs of other long-range missions, China will consider seeking supply facilities at appropriate harbors in the Seychelles or other countries," the Ministry of Defense said in a statement on its website on 13 December 2011. The statement was in response to a recent report that the Seychelles invited China to establish a military base in the Indian Ocean archipelago to crack down on piracy during a visit by Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, the first by a Chinese defense minister, earlier in December.
The Defense Ministry statement said that during Liang's visit the Seychelles expressed appreciation for China's efforts to ensure safe navigation on the Indian Ocean, as well as general support China had given to the Seychelles. "The Seychelles also invited China's navy to re-supply in the country during escort missions," the ministry said.
The Press Trust of India news agency later interpreted this as Beijing reneging on its promise not to build military bases abroad. "In a move that may cause unease in India," the agency said, "China on Monday announced that it will set up its first military base abroad".
Navy ships have used facilities in Djibouti, Oman and Yemen to take on supplies, according to the Ministry of Defense. "It is international practice for navies to take on supplies at the closest port of a nearby state during long-distance missions," the ministry said. Peng Guangqian, a Beijing-based military strategist, said facilities allowing ships to take on supplies cannot be called military bases because "China respects the host's sovereignty and internal politics, and no political conditions are attached ... Besides, it will be solely used for logistics and supplies," he added.
In the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Liu Weimin’s Regular Press Conference on December 13, 2011, it was stated "It is an international practice for naval fleets on long voyage missions to replenish at the nearest port of coastal countries. China will consider using suitable ports in Seychelles and other countries for the replenishment and rest of naval fleets in light of their needs in escort and long voyage missions. Such practice is transparent, and there is no need to worry."
Seychelles Foreign Minister Jean-Paul Adam indicated in September 2012 that his country had invited China to set up a military presence. Subsequent Chinese press reports indicated that the PLAN was considering the option to use the Seychelles to support logistics and supply efforts for PLAN counterpiracy task forces. This news adds credence to the argument that the PLAN will move from exclusive reliance on commercial ports (the Pit Stop Model) and reach agreements with host nations to use their military facilities (the Dual Use Logistics Facility Model).
In February 2007, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Seychelles as the last leg of a multi-nation trip to Africa. Seychelles supports the "One-China" policy and has received assistance from China such as housing and educational projects, cultural exchanges, and medical support. President Hu's trip, which reciprocated President Michel's visit to Beijing in November 2006, was widely publicized as the most important foreign visit in recent history and resulted in the signing of new loans and trade agreements.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Seychelles on June 30, 1976, bilateral relations have been developing smoothly and steadily. The President of the National Assembly Macgregor visited China in 2004. Ismail Amat, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, visited Seychelles in 2006. Seychelles is one of China's outbound travel destinations. Bilateral trade has been growing rapidly, with trade volume totaling 3.41 million U.S. dollars in 2005.
On 04 December 2009, The Seychelles National Party (SNP), the main opposition party in the Seychelles, boycotted the inauguration of the new Chinese-built Seychelles National Assembly building. The official inauguration ceremony was attended by President Michel, former President James Mancham, the Chinese ambassador Weng Weiguo, cabinet ministers, Chief Justice Frederick Egonda-Ntende, the speaker of the Namibian National Assembly Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab (guest of honor), members of the National Assembly from the ruling party, and members of the diplomatic corps.
Wavel Ramkalawan, head of the SNP and leader of the parliamentary opposition, acknowledged China's generosity, but publicly announced that the "SNP feels that the building housing the institution that symbolizes our country's democracy should have been erected from resources of the Seychelles rather than be granted by another sovereign nation." Ramkalawan's comments in private conversations were more direct and pointed. He stated that "receiving a building which houses our democracy from a foreign government that doesn't believe in a multi-party democracy and where the leaders are not freely elected is a slap in the face to the people of the Seychelles." Ramkalawan said he was angry that the foundation stone of the building -- a building where the Seychellois constitution is enshrined and a building that should be the pride of the nation -- bears an inscription only in Chinese (and not in English, French or Creole -- the languages of the Seychelles).
The Chinese Government also signed an agreement to build a new Supreme Court building, scheduled to begin construction in 2010. Ramkalawan objected to the decision to accept Chinese construction of the Supreme Court building, given the PRC's "questionable judicial system." Press releases revealed that the Chinese government contributed approximately ninety percent of the cost of the National Assembly building and the total cost of the Supreme Court building and the Anse Royal Hospital.
The two countries had frequent high-level political exchanges. In April and July 2013, Seychellois President James Alix Michel sent separate messages of sympathy to President Xi Jinping over the earthquake in Sichuan Province and flood in northeast China. In May, Vice Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng visited Seychelles. He met with President Michel, Vice President Danny Faure and Foreign Minister Jean-Paul Adam, with whom he signed the Agreement Between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of Seychelles on Mutual Exemption of Visa Requirements.
In July 2013, Seychellois Foreign Minister Adam visited China. He had talks with Foreign Minister Wang Yi and they signed the Agreement Between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles on the Establishment of a Political Consultation Mechanism. In August 2013, Andre Pool, Deputy Speaker of Seychellois National Assembly and Chairperson of its International Affairs Committee, visited China.
Significant results were achieved in bilateral business cooperation. The construction of "Palais de Justice" and expansion of the Anse Royale Hospital were completed with China's assistance and handed over to Seychelles. Five ambulances donated by China arrived in Seychelles and were put into use. Micro and small-sized community projects implemented with China's assistance, including water drains, bus stations and pedestrian pavements, were well received by local people. In February 2013, the Red Cross Society of China donated US$20,000 to Seychelles for flood relief.
On June 29, 2016, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming met with Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs Maurice Loustau-Lalanne of Seychelles, who was in China to attend the 40th anniversary of the independence of Seychelles and the establishment of China-Seychelles diplomatic relations. Both sides exchanged views on China-Seychelles relations and other topics of common interest.
From June 14 to 16, 2017, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on African Affairs Xu Jinghu visited Seychelles, during which she met with President Danny Faure of Seychelles, and held talks with Foreign Secretary Claude Morel of Seychelles, exchanging in-depth views on the development of China-Seychelles relations. H.E. Yu Jinsong, Chinese Ambassador to Seychelles was present.
President Danny Faure and Foreign Secretary Claude Morel expressed that Seychelles and China enjoy a solid friendship. Seychelles thanks China for making positive contributions to the development of society, economy and people’s livelihood of Seychelles for a long time. Regarding China as a good friend and good brother, the country is willing to make joint efforts with China to expand bilateral mutually beneficial cooperation in such areas as blue economy, tourism, health, sports and security, so as to promote the constant and forward-looking development of bilateral friendly cooperative relations.
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