As the Ambassador of China to Somalia, I am very honored to be here in the Federal Republic of Somalia. I have been working in the Horn of African country for more than three years and have witnessed its achievements in peace and development.
July 1st 2020 marks the 60th anniversary of Somalia’s independence, and December marks the 60th anniversary of China-Somalia diplomatic ties. I am privileged to join my Somali friends in these important moments in history. Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, a congratulatory message addressed to Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, warmly congratulating Somalia on its 60th anniversary of independence, and extending sincere congratulations and best wishes to Somali people.
The word “Somalia” derives from “Somaal”, the ancient ancestor common to All Somalis. Somalia is located in the Horn of Africa, known as the “Fragrant Horn” in ancient times, and is famous for its rich spices and myrrh.
The Somali flag has a white five star in the center, symbolizing African freedom and independence. The national emblem of Somalia is the national flag of Somalia, the upper part of the emblem is a crown, symbolizing independence and sovereignty, on both sides of the emblem are Somali leopards, which symbolize majesty, courage, firmness and strength, representing the Somali people’s determination to defend national sovereignty.
Somalia, with a population of about 15 million and a land area of more than 630,000 square kilometres, is known as the “Camel kingdom” with more then 7 million camels. Camels are loved by mankind for their diligence, frugality and wisdom.
Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa, more than 3,300 kilometers, with blue sky, white clouds, sand beaches, coconut trees and sea winds. Somali food, Somali dance music, Somali bananas and other well-known in the world.
Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, is also known as “Hamar”, which means “Throne of Kings” and is known as “the white pearl of the Indian Ocean”.
Somalia has rich natural resources, great development potential and unlimited business opportunities. The high natural mineral resources that have been proved in Somalia including coal, iron, lead, tin, manganese, nickel, zinc, magnesium, uranium and petroleum and gas etc.. The coast of Somalia is home to many good natural ports, such as Mogadishu, Kismayu, Berbera, Bosaso, Hobyo and Eyl; Food crops are mainly sorghum, maize, wheat, cassava and rice, economic crops have cotton, sugarcane, banana, sesame, peanut, mango and so on. Somali industries are to be dominated by textiles, leather, sugar, tobacco, food processing, oil refining, electricity and construction materials, port, transportation, and telecommunications, internet, communications and mobile phone payments. Mobile payments in Somalia are more developed, Somalia is one of the most networked countries on the African continent. Somalia has rich marine resources and great potential to develop its blue economy. Somalia is a natural tourist destination with world-class beaches. Real estate development in Somalia has a broad prospect, and many sea-view houses, seaside hotels, coastal business zones and urban Central Business District(CBD) can be built in Somalia.
The Somali people are smart, intelligent, hardworking and brave. They have created their own language, excellent culture and beautiful music throughout history. Somalia poet praised Mogadishu so: “You are a rarity in the garden of the most brilliant of Somalia, you that is famous for its beautiful appearance to the ends of the earth, streets of city make up the pattern on people beautiful turban, the buildings of like pure jade ornament your wearing color yarn, the blue sea and you murmured, thick green palm trees dance dancing for you, ah, your beautiful tenshi enchanted……”. In addition, there are approximately 1.5 to 2 million diaspora, who have made outstanding contributions to the development of Somalia.
Over the past 60 years since Somalia’s independence, the Somali people have been striving for national independence, peace, development and prosperity. They have gone through such historical stages as civil war, restoration, development and prosperity, and are now at a critical stage of national peace and reconstruction. Under the leadership of successive governments, remarkable achievements have been made in peace and development in Somalia. Since the new government led by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed took office in 2017, the Somali people have worked hard, overcome difficulties, obstacles and challenges, and made tremendous progress in peace, governance, debt relief, legal and regulatory development, humanitarian development, and safeguarding political independence, sovereignty and national dignity, which have been widely recognized by the international community. We are convinced that Somalia will become better and better as a result of historical development.
The two countries China and Somalia enjoy a long friendship. More than 600 years ago, Zheng He, a famous Chinese navigator, led his fleet to visit Mogadishu many times and called it“木骨都束”. China established diplomatic relations with Somalia on December 14, 1960. Somalia is the first country in East Africa to establish diplomatic relations with China. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, bilateral exchanges and cooperation in politics, economy, culture, education and health and other fields have achieved fruitful results. From 1960 to 1991, the Chinese government helped Somalia complete more than 80 infrastructure construction projects, including the National Grand Theater and the National Stadium, and sent 13 medical teams with a total of 399 personnel to Somalia, many of whom came from my hometown, Jilin Province in northeast China. In 2018, Somali President Mohamed attended the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation(FOCAC), Chinese President Xi Jinping and Somali President Mohamed held a historic meeting, jointly drawing a blueprint for the development of bilateral relations. In 2019, Somali Ministers attended international conferences in China. Since 2017, Somali women delegation, media delegation, government officials, scholars, people-people exchanges and the Somali business community and so on, have visited to and attended meetings in China. Trade between the two countries reached more than 450 million US dollars in 2019. With the in-depth development of China-Somalia relations, there will be more high-level visits, economic and trade cooperation and personnel exchanges between the two countries and bilateral relations will continue to move forward.
The two countries China and Somalia have always supported each other. In 1971, with the firm support of Somalia and other brotherly African countries, China restored its lawful seat in the United Nations. Since Somalia fell into civil war in 1991, China has made unremitting efforts to promote peace and development in Somalia through various bilateral and multilateral channels, including political, economic, personnel training and humanitarian assistance.
The two countries China and Somalia have always cherished profound feelings. Beijing Foreign Language University in China has opened Somali language courses to cultivate talents to promote China-Somalia friendship from generation to generation. In the past three years, the Chinese government has provided more than 50 government scholarships to the Somali government every year. This year, in the special period of fighting COVID-19, the Chinese government has continued to provide more than 50 governmental scholarships to the Somali government and actively trained various talents for Somalia national development and prosperity.
The two countries China and Somalia have always supported each other. In order to support peace and national reconstruction and development in Somalia and promote the continuous development of bilateral relations, China officially reopened its Embassy in Somalia in 2014. In the face of floods and humanitarian crises in Somalia, the Chinese government and people have made every effort to provide food and relief supplies to Somalia. Since the appearance of novel coronavirus infected case in Somalia, the Chinese government and people have overcome their own difficulties and provided four batches of materials to Somalia. China will continue to provide anti-epidemic materials and humanitarian assistance to Somalia and work with the Somali people to defeat these challenges.
The Somalia’s independence has gone through 60 years, and China-Somalia friendly relations have also gone through more half a century. After 60 years of trials and hardships, Somalia is showing strong resilience and more and more vitality. Over the past half a century and more, the friendship between China and Somalia has withstood the test of time and the changing international situation. We have always supported each other in trying times. China firmly supports peace and development of Somalia and Somalia’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. Somalia firmly adheres to one China principle and has never shaken even in its trying times. Throughout history, China and Somalia have forged a partnership of mutual trust.
“Never worry about having no bosom friends on the way forward”. “Friendship lasts forever”. China will follow the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and the principle of pursuing the greater good and shared interests put forward by President Xi Jinping, continue to stand with Somalia, together, work in unity and forge ahead, under the framework of the FOCAC, China-Arab States Cooperation and Belt and Road Initiative(BRI), promote to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
By Qin Jian, Chinese Ambassador to SomaliaShare