Spanning the Maritime Silk Road


As a Chinese poem says, “Good friends feel close to each other even when they are separated by vast distance”. Although China and Somalia are far apart geographically, friendly exchanges between the two peoples can be traced back 600 years ago to when Zheng He, a famous Chinese navigator, visited Somalia many times. Since then, the two peoples have been closely linked by the Maritime Silk Road.
Somalia became the first country in East Africa to establish diplomatic relations with China in 1960, and the two countries have achieved fruitful results in exchanges and cooperation in politics, economy, education, sports, science and technology and healthcare, and other areas. In 1964, premier Zhou Enlai visited Somalia. From 1960 to 1991, the Chinese government helped Somalia with 89 projects, encompassing agriculture, healthcare, culture and education, people’s livelihoods and infrastructure such as Somalia’s national stadium, Benadir hospital, national grand theater, a reservoir, water supply system and North-South national highway, which are still celebrated by the Somali people. China also sent 13 batches of medical teams to Somalia, with a total of nearly 400 doctors, curing thousands of Somali people. The friendship between China and Somalia is deeply rooted in the hearts of the two peoples.
The two countries have always respected and supported each other. Somalia has long adhered to the principle of one China, and China has respected Somali sovereignty and political independence. In 1971, with the firm support of Somalia and other African fraternal countries, China gained its legitimate seat in the United Nations. Since Somalia unfortunately fell into a civil war in 1991, China has continued to support Somalia’s pursuit of peace in the fields of economy, education, health, personnel training and development assistance, and has spoken up for Somalia in multilateral platforms such as the UN Security Council, called on the international community to support for Somalia and promote the early solving of the Somali issue, made unremitting efforts to foster political peace, economic development, social progress and improvement of people’s livelihoods in Somalia.
The two countries have always cherished sincere and friendly feelings. In recent years, the Chinese government has provided scholarships to Somalia every year to help it develop human resources and train talent for national development. At present, there are more than 1,300 Somali students studying in China. The Somali language is being taught in Beijing Foreign Studies University. The visits, participation and training of Somali government officials, women’s delegations, media delegations, youths and think tank scholars to China have promoted people-to-people exchanges and deepened the traditional friendship between the two countries. Chinese enterprises and businessmen have invested in Somalia and made positive contributions to the local economic and social development.
The two countries have always helped each other. During the severe droughts and floods in Somalia, the Chinese government and people have lent helping hands and provided emergency humanitarian food and disaster relief material assistance to the Somali government and people. Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, China and Somalia have jointly fought the pandemic with solidarity and cooperation. The Chinese government and civil society have provided material assistance to the Somali government and people to help with their treatment and prevention and control efforts. Somalia on its part offered China invaluable support at the height of China’s battle with the novel coronavirus. These fully demonstrate “true friendship will stand the test of adversity”, and the brotherhood between China and Somalia during these testing times.
As good brothers and sisters, good partners and good friends, the two peoples love peace and are eager for development. Without peace, there will be no development, and without peace, there will be no happy life for the people.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Somalia. Looking back over the past, the relations between the two countries have withstood the test of time and the evolving of the international landscape and yielded fruitful results.
–The Daily Mail-China Daily news exchange item