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China sets up mission to the African Union

Updated: 2015-02-06 03:04
By MO JINGXI (China Daily)

China has established a permanent mission to the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

China sets up mission to the African Union

An announcement on Thursday also said that Kuang Weilin, a former ambassador to Sierra Leone, will arrive in the African city late this month to serve as head of the mission.

Observers said the mission will enable China to better coordinate its major projects on the continent and enhance its diplomatic activities.

Kuang told the media on Thursday, "We plan to set up several departments specializing in areas including politics, economics, peace and security."

A working team was sent to Addis Ababa at the end of last year to carry out preparatory work, he said.

The African Union was among the last few regional organizations that lacked a permanent Chinese mission, although China was one of the first nations to send a representative to the AU as a non-African country.

China set up a mission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2012, while its mission to the European Economic Community was established in 1975.

He Wenping, a research fellow at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said setting up the mission to the African Union will be significant in boosting cooperation between China and Africa.

"Both are working on many projects that involve different countries and regions. This requires good coordination across the continent, and the newly established mission will help in this regard," He said.

Kuang said a major task for the mission will be implementing major infrastructure projects in Africa, including the recently signed memorandum of understanding with the African Union covering cooperation on high-speed railways, aviation and highways.

Li Wentao, a researcher at the Institute of African Studies under the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the African Union will play a bigger role, as the continent needs "a louder voice" on the world stage.

Kuang said China is willing to explore possible cooperation with the United States on African affairs.

He, from the CASS, said, "It is necessary to invite other countries, including the US, to take part in these projects, as it is not possible for China alone to help Africa fulfill its dream."

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