China to re-open embassy in Somalia

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iol pic afr Hong Lei -somalia-china AFP The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei gestures during a press briefing in Beijing in 2013. Picture: Mark Ralston

Beijing - China said on Monday it will re-open its embassy in Somalia 23 years after evacuating its diplomats as the East African nation plunged into civil war.

The decision came after Somalia established its first government and parliament in 21 years, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. He said Beijing would send a delegation to Somalia on Tuesday.

“Somalia has entered a new stage of its peace process,” Hong told reporters at a regular briefing. “That brings a new opportunity for the development of China-Somalia relations.”

Chinese diplomats left Somalia in January 1991 after a longtime dictator was overthrown and warlords turned on each other, plunging the impoverished country into chaos.

The United States announced earlier in June that it would appoint an ambassador to Somalia but said it had no immediate plans to re-open its embassy in the capital, Mogadishu, which has been beset by violence and deadly bombings spurred by the militant network al-Shabab.

China has a large presence on the African continent, with Chinese companies building roads, airports and other infrastructure. Beijing has opened more embassies and commercial offices in recent years. Last year, China-Africa trade reached $210 billion, according to official figures. - Sapa-AP


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