China, Senegal sign Belt and Road cooperation document

By on July 22, 2018

Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed Senegal as the first West African country to sign a Belt and Road cooperation document with China during his state visit on Saturday, with Chinese experts hailing the development as a milestone to kick-start a new era of China-Africa friendship as well as inject new impetus in the region’s sustainable development.

Xi arrived in Dakar, capital and the largest city of Senegal for a first state visit by a Chinese head of state in nine years, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xi and his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall held talks Saturday and vowed to create a better future for China-Senegal ties, Xinhua reported.

After their talks, Xi received Senegal’s top medal of honor from Sall, and the two leaders witnessed the signing of cooperation documents, including one on joint building of the Belt and Road.

“The signing of such a document is of great exemplary value as an overwhelming majority of African countries are heavily influenced by their former colonizers, such as France and the UK, although there are many China-Africa cooperation projects already going on all over the continent,” said Meng Guangwen, a professor at Tianjin Normal University.

It will open a new era for the development of the China-proposed initiative in African countries, under which all counties have access to cooperation based on mutual trust, mutual respect, win-win and mutual benefit, Meng told the Global Times on Sunday.

China will continue to uphold the spirit of “teaching a man to fish,” expand and deepen cooperation with Senegal, and enhance its ability in independent development, Xi said.

Senegal, Sall said, admires China’s development achievements, appreciates China’s precious support for Senegalese economic and social development and its implementation of a revitalization plan.

“China’s Belt and Road initiative could be smoothly linked with Senegalese domestic development as key areas of the initiative overlap with the Emerging Senegal Plan and Senegal will become a bridgehead of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in West Africa,” said He Wenping, a research fellow at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences based in Beijing.

She told the Global Times on Sunday that China would not solely help build infrastructure such as highways, bridges and ports for these countries, but also help develop local maritime and tourism resources, introduce fishing and sea product processing technologies.

China’s help with core competitive industries will bring about a better debt-repayment capability and eventually improve the investment environment for African countries, driving them to a sustainable mode of development, Meng noted.

Xi published a signed article “SUNU JAPPO, China and Senegal!” in mainstream Senegalese newspaper Le Soleil ahead of his state visit to the country.

China has become Senegal’s second-largest trading partner and the top importer of Senegalese peanuts. China-Senegal trade volume has grown 16 times in just over a decade. China is also Senegal’s biggest source of financing, according to the article published on Friday.

Many China-funded projects, including the Foundiougne bridge and the Thies-Touba highway, will boost Senegal’s economic growth. A rural water supply project funded by China, including 251 wells and 1,800 kilometers of pipelines, will benefit one-seventh of Senegal’s population, the article read.

The Thies-Touba highway project is carried out by the China International Water & Electric Corp, and Liu Zengxue, the company’s general manager told China Central Television on Sunday that “the completion of the highway will link the three major Senegalese cities Dakar, Thies and Touba, effectively facilitating local tourism development and the country’s cement exports.”

Meanwhile, the construction project provides job opportunities to nearly 5,000 local residents, according to Liu.

Xi has already visited the United Arab Emirates and will pay state visits to Rwanda and South Africa, attend the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg, and visit Mauritius during a stopover, Xinhua said.

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