Chinese FM slams US sanctions on Eritrea
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has criticized the US over sanctions on Eritrea for its role in the Tigray conflict, in neighboring Ethiopia.
In a joint statement issued after Mr Wang met with Eritrean counterpart Osman Saleh, the two sides said the sanctions imposed in November amounted to external interference, even as Eritrea pledged to support the One-China policy on what constitutes the actual foreign representation of China abroad.
“Both sides agreed to uphold the common values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom for all mankind, and oppose hegemonic interferences in the internal affairs of other countries under the pretext of democracy and human rights,” the dispatch indicated.
“The Chinese side stands against any unilateral sanctions on Eritrea. The Eritrean side reaffirms adherence to the One-China principle.”
The One-China Policy, upheld by most African countries, except the Kingdom of eSwatini., says Beijing is the capital of China and only Beijing can send diplomats abroad to represent what is known as the People’s Republic of China.
It is the product of lobbying by Beijing for the world to ignore the pleas of Taiwan (officially known as Republic of China) from seeking international recognition.
Wang was visiting Eritrea for the first time as Foreign Minister, reflecting the changing tide in ties with the Horn of Africa country that only recently signed on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); the ambitious program meant to connect China with Asia, Africa and Europe via sea, land and air transport connections.
But while keeping off internal regional politics, the joint statement indicated Beijing’s displeasure with the US sanctions on Eritrea.
In November, the State Department said it was designating six targets associated with the Eritrean government and ruling party, including the Eritrean army, for “destabilizing presence in Ethiopia is prolonging the conflict, posing a significant obstacle to a cessation of hostilities, and threatening the integrity of the Ethiopian state.”
Wang’s critical stance on the sanctions may now reflect China’s direct interest in the Tigray conflict. In November, he visited Addis Ababa and said Ethiopia was capable of dealing with the conflict without external interference. In his three-nation Africa tour, apart from Eritrea, Wang also visited Kenya and Comoros in what is seen as China deliberate move to expand strategic ties with African Indian Ocean states.
While in Kenya, Wang announced that China would appoint a special envoy to foster peace in the turbulent Horn of Africa and wanted to shift focus on the continent to trade over infrastructure.
This visit is a continuation of China’s diplomatic tradition of 32 years of making Africa the first destination of its foreign minister in a new year.