The relationship between The People’s Republic of China and The Federal Republic of Somalia dates back in the Middle Ages, when citizens of these countries established mutual cooperation through trade, resulting into influencing their languages and cultures. This informed the China-Somalia relationship being an epitome of China-Africa Relations, with Somalia being the first country from East Africa to establish diplomatic cooperation with China. Since then, the two friends have always enhanced mutual trust that has to date yielded many fruits.
A key example is the role played by China when Somalia had setbacks due to the civil strife and fiefdoms that retarded its development, to which China responded by building the longest highway and other facilities that enhance livelihoods due to their historical associations. In addition to the two Nations having a long history, they have also suffered similarly in the present day. This is mainly due to the citizens of the two countries being a hardworking, courageous, resilient, warmhearted and strong sense of national pride.
Such acts have influenced Somalia to always attach great importance to its relations with China and will always strive to strengthen these relations unreservedly. Current Chinese global civilization initiatives compound these efforts further, since Somalia cannot afford being left out given their prevailing repercussions. Somalia intends to bridge its demand for manufactured products, modernize its infrastructure be it on land, air or sea, and develop management of its natural resources, such as minerals and fisheries whose great insights can be gained from its association with China. Somalia has even been among countries that appreciate the role the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea coastal countries can play to the Belt and Road Initiative and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road project.
Current trends indicate that China’s investments in Somalia are more focused on bilateral trade development. This has resulted in an increase in the two countries trading, with China becoming Somalia’s largest international trading partner. China has also enhanced its trading with Somalia towards sustainable development by transiting its trade structures from the traditional single aid to bilateral economic, trade, and capacity cooperation, and industry docking while encouraging Chinese enterprises’ investment to aid Somalia’s reconstruction. A gesture that cannot be taken for granted.
However, Somalia has always been ready and open to bilateral cooperation with all Nations. It encourages all mutually beneficial trading solutions, such as its engagement with China, which has been extremely beneficial to both parties.
Amb. Mohamed A. Awil
Former Federal Republic of Somalia Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China
19th June, 2023.