Fifty years ago today, China restored its lawful seat in the United Nations. The Somalis were as proud and excited as the Chinese, because Somalia was not only one of the 23 countries co-sponsoring the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution supporting China, but also had already submitted similar proposals twice to the UNGA before. Somalia was among the first African and Muslim nations that had supported China at that time. Chairman Mao Zedong said, “It was African brothers who had carried China back to the United Nations.” Somalia is a good brother of China.
Sixty-one years ago, Somalia established diplomatic ties with China as soon as it became independent, which makes it the very first East African country establishing diplomatic ties with China.
More than 600 years ago, the Chinese navigator Zheng He arrived in Mogadoxo, i.e., the capital today of Somalia, Mogadishu. Dating back hundreds of years, historical records show that the two sides had exchanges as early as the Tang Dynasty ( 618 to 907 A.D.). Time and tide have changed, so has the world. Yet the traditional friendship between China and Somalia has withstood the test of time and distance.
Somalia is in the Horn of East Africa, thousands of miles away from China in East Asia. Both China and Somalia have a long history and similar sufferings in modern times. The Chinese are just as hardworking, courageous, resilient and warmhearted as the Somalis, and both have a strong sense of national pride. These similarities make the two far-away countries feel particularly close and familiar to each other. As a Chinese poem line goes, “Long distances could not separate true friends”.
Both China and Somalia firmly uphold the UN-centered international system and the international order based on international law, cherish national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and reject external interference in internal affairs. The two sides also uphold fairness, speak up for justice, and understand and support each other on core interests and major concerns. Somalia firmly supports the One China Policy, and China firmly safeguards the legitimate rights and interests of Somalia and other developing countries.
China’s return to the United Nations means that developing nations have, for the first time, found their own voice and strength among the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
This year, President Farmaajo in his correspondence with President Xi Jinping congratulated China on the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party and on China’s National Day. He commended China’s great achievements and contribution to the political civilization of mankind. He said Somalia will always remain a friend of China. President Xi Jinping thanked the Somali President for the warm congratulations.
In September, President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech when attending the 76th session of the UNGA via video link. He proposed “Global Development Initiative”, stressed that we all need to put development first with a people-centered approach and leave no country and no one behind.
China honors its words with real actions. After the establishment of diplomatic relations, China assisted Somalia in the construction of the National Theater, the National Stadium, and the Banadir Hospital, etc, many of which are still in use today. China has also dispatched 13 medical teams to assist Somalia in treating patients.
Somalia unfortunately fell into civil conflicts in 1991. China has continued to reach out to Somalia in the fields of humanitarian aid, education, health and other areas.
Today, as a result of natural disasters and conflicts, over one third of Somali people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, and one fifth are displaced. A new batch of Chinese humanitarian supplies have been recently handed over to Somalia and will soon be delivered to the vulnerable populations. They have come at the right time to help those in need in this country.
The two countries have also written a new chapter in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic together. At the peak of the pandemic last year, Somali students in China joined the volunteers to fight the pandemic shoulder-to-shoulder with the citizens of Wuhan, China; In April this year, the Chinese government lost no time in donating and delivering 200 thousand vaccines to Somalia.
Not long ago, Chinese astronaut Tang Hongbo took a photo in space with the outline of the Somali Peninsula pointing in the direction of the dawn. It bodes well for many. In recent years, despite daunting challenges, the Somali people have made unremitting efforts with broad international support, and Somalia has secured good progress in the peaceful reconstruction.
Somalia is known to have the largest number of camels and the sweetest bananas in the world. It also has the longest coastline on the African continent, as well as abundant fisheries and mineral resources. China-Somalia cooperation has huge potentials and a promising future.
Mogadishu just had its first public film screening in 30 years in the National Theater, whose construction was aided by the Chinese back in the 1960s. Some said: the historic night shows how hopes have been revived after so many years of challenges.
With the Chinese and Somalis joining hands to build a community with a shared future for mankind, the ship of our friendship will hopefully break the waves ahead and sail towards another dawning day, to the benefit of our two countries and two peoples.
By: H. E. Fei Shengchao
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China
to the Federal Republic of Somalia