From: Eri News (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Nov 12 2009 - 10:16:39 EST
Shaebia Interview with the PRC Ambassador to Eritrea By Efrem Habtetsion Nov 12, 2009, 10:18am
Mr. Li Liansheng is the newly appointed ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China to Eritrea. Last week, during the photograph show marking the China-Africa relationship held here in Asmara, Shaebia.org interviewed him regarding the relationship between the two countries. Excerpts:
Mr. Ambassador, being a new ambassador, what is your opinion regarding the current Eritro-China relationship?
I think now China-Eritrea relationship is very good; we have established diplomatic relations for years. Since then, mutual relationship between the two countries has been progressing successfully; our cooperation has been expanding. For instance, although I have been here just for three months, I have already witnessed many programs being implemented.
What are the main areas of cooperation between the two countries?
There are many areas of cooperation in agriculture, health, education and culture. We have, for instance, three agricultural experts here under the protocol signed between the two ministries of agriculture. We have also just completed building two rural schools and handed them over to the Eritrean government; the one in Mendefera and the other in Ghindae. These two schools were built by the Chinese government.
And the cement factory in Massawa doing well and will probably be start production early next year. Recently, we have a group of youth volunteers arrived here, and this time all together, 20; ten in computer science, seven in agriculture and three in sports. I talked with them and they are very enthusiastic and determined to make sound contribution to our bilateral relationship.
We also have bilateral relation between the Chinese province, Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China and the Gash Bark Region of Eritrea in which we send agricultural delegation. Last week, for example, they have reached an agreement that would enable them to have experimental farms, especially in irrigation system.
You are also building a college of social science in Adi-Keih?
I think the Arts and Social Science College is under construction I went there with some Eritrean officials and all of us are satisfied with its progress. We hope the college will be completed as early as possible and start its services.
China has different cultural centres in different parts of Africa and the world but you dont have one in Asmara?
Well, as far as cultural centre is concerned we have several programs with Eritrea in different cultural fields. We have been organizing different shows or programs with the cultural affairs of the PFDJ and the Ministry of Education. China has been arranging annual China-Eritrea film weeks. There are so many activities that strengthen the cultural sharing between us.
There is big mining investment in Eritrea. What is the role of Chinese companies? And what is the role of the embassy in informing the Chinese investors to invest in Eritrea?
We have several private Chinese mining companies in Eritrea. They are investing in this economic sector on their own; but the embassy will definitely try to provide its support to them but it is not very much involved.
We definitely encourage Chinese businessmen to come here and establish economic cooperation or do business here. We provide them with all kind of information and references if it is necessary, we also help them to get to know the Eritrean department officials and others.
So you have been here almost for three months, what impression about Eritrean and its people do you have?
Although I am here not for long, I have been deeply impressed by Eritrea. It is a very friendly country and it is a country with very special characteristics. It has long history of armed struggle; so, the people here are full of revolutionary spirit. I think that is my impression about Eritrea. The Eritrean people are also very friendly with China; they want to learn almost everything about china. The Chinese and Eritreans get along with each other very well. Still the impression is I think China can do quite a lot of things to strengthen its relation with Eritrea; to help each other and to further enhance our bilateral relationship which is based on equality and mutual respect.
China is providing scholarship to Eritrean students. So, what is your plan to further provide more scholarships?
China now offers government scholarship to Eritrean students and the number is increasing from time to time. For instance, this year we offered around 50 scholarships to Eritrean students who are now in China: Some of them in medicine and some in engineering. Before they left, I held a reception for them where I realized that they were much exited and I wish them to have a good stay in China. And I hope they would come back well trained to make contribution to Eritrean economic development.
There is a growing relationship between china and Africa. What exactly is the benefit of Africans from this kind of relation?
It is true that China-Africa relations is growing fast and bigger. I think both sides benefit from the relationship. For instance, China offers economic aid, financial support, technical supports, and training programs to different African countries. But because we are all developing counties, it is more suitable for African countries to learn to get this all experiences from China. We also support each other in international affairs, for instance in United Nations and other issues. It is a win-win course in which both sides benefit from it. Our trade in 2000 the trade between us was 10 billion but it has reached 100billion now.
Some say that there is a race between USA and China towards exploiting Africa. What is your opinion?
I dont think so; Chinas relationship with African countries dates back to the last fifties. We are just like brothers. This friendship is based on political equality and mutual trust. We treat each other just like brothers and we help each other and support each other. I think the Chinese relationship with Africa is totally different from other countries relationship with Africans. We dont have self interest. We understand African counties better because we have similar history and similar experience. So, I think it is totally different and we are not in any competition with the United States.
What are your plans as a new ambassador to boost cooperation between Eritrea and China?
As a new ambassador of China to Eritrea, I will try my best to fulfil my task to promote better understanding between our two countries and two people; I will do my best to put our cooperation into a higher level.
Thank you Mr. Ambassador
I wish you good stay in Eritrea
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