This move was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping during the discussions held in Beijing with the visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn on May 12/2017.
Considering Ethiopia as a gate to Africa, China has been working to further consolidate the ties with the East African nation.
“They have considered Ethiopia as a gate to Africa. That’s the reason for the elevation of the partnership to a higher level”, PM Hailemariam said. The role that Ethiopia has been playing in ensuring peace and stability in the region is also another factor.
The move by China to elevate the ties with Ethiopia displays the momentum that the relationships between the two countries have reached, Hailemariam added.
The Premier said “this means that the relations between the two countries are in the right position to closely work under any circumstances.”
According to him, Ethiopia is the first country in Africa to enter into strategic partnership with China.
“We are happy that our country has been chosen for this status that shows the possibility of building strong ties; and we are very happy to reach this level”, he stated.
Since Ethiopia is considered to be a gate to Africa, it has become a pilot country and hub to many of the projects envisaged and launched by China.
Ethiopia is a pilot country for the industry production capacity cooperation aimed to move capacity of Chinese manufacturers to Africa, and the Djibouti-Dakar railway system that connects East and West Africa that commenced with the Ethio-Djibouti railway line.
Ethiopia has also been chosen to be a hub for the broadband fiber optics aimed to interconnect the entire continent and become the center of Africa.
Since Ethiopian Airlines is playing important role in connecting China with Africa, China has decided to make Addis Ababa aviation center. More than 80 percent of China’s connections to Africa are being conducted through Ethiopian Airlines.
Apart from bilateral issues, the Belt and Road Forum, an initiative aimed at fostering economic cooperation and prosperity that Beijing will host was also discussed during the meeting with President Xi Jinping.
Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania are the pilot countries chosen in Africa for the realization of the belt and road initiative and the first two are invited to the forum.
Leaders from 29 countries will discuss the plan for two days in Beijing.
The initiative is an ambitious development plan through which China wants to boost trade and stimulate economic growth across Asia and Africa by building massive amounts of infrastructure connecting it to countries around the world.
The initiative has two main prongs: One is called the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ (the belt) and the other the ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ (the road).
The ‘road’ is not actually a road but rather a sea route linking China’s southern coast to east Africa and the Mediterranean. The ‘belt’ is a series of overland corridors connecting China with Europe, via Central Asia and the Middle East.
Prime Minister Hilemariam has also witnessed the signing of two agreements with China for the Ethiopian Railway Academy and Meles Zenawi Leadership Academy.