Chinas venture for peacebuilding in the Horn

goEthio

BY ZEKARIAS WOLDEMARIAM

Located on the main shipping route for the transport of oil from the Persian Gulf to Europe and the United States, the Horn of Africa is considered one of the most strategically important regions in the world.

On top of this, the region is also well known for its rich deposits of untapped natural resources, including petroleum, gold, salt, hydropower and natural gas. Its rivers, lakes, forests, livestock and high agricultural potential also attract various sides from all corners of the world.

Historical records indicate that since the time of the Cold War, the region and its resources have been the object of intense interest and rivalry among the world’s major powers.

As a result, the region remains one of the poorest and most conflict-ridden corners of the globe. Extended periods of drought, major floods, and internal conflicts fuelled by external interference have led to widespread devastation through war and famine. Recent research indicates that the countries of the Horn of Africa are also likely to be among the most severely affected by current processes of climatic change.

The series of conflicts has also paved the way for a lack of development activities that help the region fend off the impacts of natural disasters, especially drought. Consequently,

 prolonged and frequent droughts across the Horn of Africa, particularly in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, are threatening the lives of millions of children. Violent storms are leading to immediate, life-threatening dangers for children, including malnutrition and a higher risk of infectious and diarrheal diseases.

This calls for the attention of the world and relevant international organizations like AU and the UN in helping the region address the recurrent conflict in the horn region. In addition countries like the US as well as European Union has also tried to involve in the efforts of addressing the conflicts in the region.

Yet the mediation efforts of these countries are more of meddling in the internal affairs of the countries involved in the conflict. This fails to bring about lasting solutions to the chaos as they do not prioritize the genuine interest of the conflicting parties and rather take the chances to coerce the subjects to abide by their rules.

Recently China has announced that it will assign a peace envoy to the region. The global superpower has one of the most important involvements in the horn of Africa. For instance, the horn of the Africa region is the entry point to China landmark investment, the Belt and Road Initiative to the Africa continent.

As China sticks to its strong principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other countries, its recent move is likely to come as a new option to the long-overdue need of the horn region for a genuine mediator.

Following its recent visit to three Africa countries, Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi said, the Horn of Africa enjoys a unique strategic position and great development potential. However, in recent years, hotspot issues have intensified and sometimes erupted into conflicts and confrontations, which are totally against the interests of people of the countries in the Horn of Africa and should not continue any longer.

To support the Horn of Africa in realizing lasting stability, peace and prosperity, China is willing to put forward the Initiative of Peaceful Development in the Horn of Africa and support regional countries in addressing the triple challenges of security, development and governance.

Concerning the Chinese government stance in this regard, a Press Release from the Chinese Embassy in Addis Ababa indicated the need to strengthen intra-regional dialogue to overcome security challenges. Countries and people in the Horn of Africa should get rid of the geographical competition among major countries and firmly pursue a path of unity and self-improvement.

The countries should take the region’s destiny into their own hands through equal-footed consultation. China suggests that regional countries hold a conference on the peace in the Horn of Africa to conduct in-depth discussions on this issue, reach political consensus and coordinate common actions.

It also stressed that China is willing to appoint a Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide the necessary support for this process.

The Press Release also stipulated “Wang Yi emphasized that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a sincere partner of Africa, China will seek greater synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and Africa’s development strategies, solidly promote the “nine programs” of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and make unremitting efforts and play a constructive role in peace and development in the Horn of Africa”

Hence, if African countries, especially of the Horn work with utmost commitment to realize peace and security, the initiative from China is a new and plausible option to break out from the recurrent vicious cycle of conflict and unrest.

 Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The

The January 12/2022

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