Interview: China-Somalia ties moving in right direction: journalist
The historical ties between China and Somalia are set for a makeover as both countries explore cooperation in new areas that would advance peace, development and security in the Horn of African state, a veteran Somali journalist told Xinhua during an interview on Saturday.
Abdurrahman Yusef, the Director of Somalia National News Agency (SONNA) , hailed the long-standing bilateral ties with China that have accelerated the country’s reconstruction after two decades of civil strife.
“The China-Somalia historical relationship has grown stronger and there is ample evidence to justify this statement. Our cooperation with China for the last 50 years cuts across different facets of life,” Yusef told Xinhua in Nairobi.
The 32-year-old father of five was born in Somalia capital Mogadishu and has practiced journalism for the last 15 years.
As a veteran journalist, Yusef has vivid recollections of China-Somalia bilateral ties that were slightly affected by the two decades of turmoil in the Horn of Africa region.
“China actively participated in development of Somalia infrastructure and social amenities. The 1,000 kilometer highway that was built by China is a shining example of solid ties with Beijing,” Yusef told Xinhua.
He added that China financed construction of the biggest Stadium in Somalia alongside modern hospitals and schools.
China reopened its embassy in Somalia capital Mogadishu in 2014 after 23 years of shutdown occasioned by the country’s two decades of civil war.
Yusef said the embassy reopening reaffirmed China’s commitment to revitalize diplomatic relationship with Somalia.
“The Chinese state has made a difference in Somalia in many ways and most importantly has supported our reconstruction. We have resumed cooperation with Beijing in trade, education and health,” said Yusef.
He revealed that hundreds of Somali youth have visited China to pursue higher education.
“There are many Somali youth who speak fluent Chinese after spending years in the country’s educational institutions,” Yusef remarked, adding that Chinese trained Somali youth have supported the country’s rebuilding process.
Somali entrepreneurs have been visiting China to import manufactured goods for sale in the bustling markets in Mogadishu, he noted, adding that around 80 percent of commodities found in Mogadishu come from China.
Yusef said China’s relationship with Somalia focus on areas that are mutually beneficial and is devoid of ideological biases.
“Our cooperation with China is about business and reconstruction. It does not include politics and many Somalia people believe China is more loyal than other bilateral partners,” said Yusef.
He cast aspersions on Somalia relationship with the United States, saying it has ideological overtones.
“We have a relationship with the United States and other western nations, but it is more about politics than other aspects of development,” Yusef said.
He noted that China has supported Somalia’s path to become a peaceful and prosperous member of the international community.