Interview: Chinese FM's Ethiopia visit to foster bilateral strategic partnership: expert

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ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's recent visit to Ethiopia has underlined the historic Ethiopia-China ties as well as commitments towards their strategic partnership, an Ethiopian scholar said on Friday.

"Indeed, Foreign Minister Wang has underlined that China and Ethiopia are close friends and strategic partners," Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, who served as an economic advisor to the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told Xinhua on Friday, while referring to the remarks made by Wang during his visit to the East African country last week.

Wang, during his meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, said that the friendship between Ethiopia and China has withstood the tests of fluctuating international situations and is unbreakable.

Costantinos emphasized China's engagement in Ethiopia and Africa, noting that China currently stood as the single largest bilateral financier of infrastructure in Africa, exceeding the combined total of the African Development Bank (AfDB), European Union, International Finance Corporation, World Bank and Group of Eight (G8) countries.

Costantinos, also professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, also echoed Wang's comments rejecting allegations that financial problems, including national debts, which African countries face, are the result of their cooperation with China.

"Wang had affirmed that the Ethiopia-China or China-Africa partnership will not be affected by the rumors," Costantinos said.

"China has funneled cash and loans into infrastructure projects across the continent, where many African leaders consider Beijing's terms a better deal than those offered by Western nations," Costantinos said.

The scholar also expressed expectation that the two countries would foster their relations in contrary to allegations that relations between Ethiopia and China had cooled recently.

According to Costantinos, the East African country, through its Minister of Foreign Affairs Workneh Gebeyehu, had "expressed its commitments to further strengthen its ties with China."

Workneh, during his meeting with Wang last week, spoke warmly of Ethiopia's ties with China, eventually dismissing a suggestion that relations between the two countries had cooled since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power last year with a sweeping reform agenda.

"We believe that the reform process in Ethiopia will further strengthen our ties with China," Workneh told a joint press conference last week. "China will continue to be Ethiopia's strategic partner."

Costantinos also indicated that "Ethiopia has benefited from China's investments, grants and loans."

According to the expert, partnership with China has among other things helped the East African country to build close to 74,000 km of all-weather roads, modern railway lines, hydro-power stations, transmission lines and industrial parks.

"This is a great stride towards structural transformation," Costantinos said, adding that "some arenas, in particular that merit attention in this regard focusing on excellence and not just quantity and cost."

Costantinos, also professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, further stressed the various ways that Ethiopia recently embarked on to benefit from its partnership with China.

"It is about engaging more local human endowment in Ethiopia by using the vast number of graduates from universities and vocational schools," he said.

"It is about greater capacity building of local competences of those graduates from universities and vocational schools," Costantinos added. Enditem

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