China has named a special envoy for the Horn of Africa, reflecting the growing interest by the world powers in one of Africa’s strategic, but lately troubled, regions.
Wang Wenbin, China’s Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters on Tuesday that Beijing had named Xue Bing, a former ambassador to Papua New Guinea, as the special envoy for the Horn of Africa affairs.
Xue is a veteran diplomat with work experience in Africa, the Americas, and Oceania, said Wang at a daily press briefing, whose transcript was shared with African media outlets.
“As a common friend to countries in the Horn of Africa, China has always been committed to promoting peace, stability and development in the region,” Mr Wang said.
“The Special Envoy will establish work relationship with colleagues from relevant parties as soon as possible and maintain close communication and coordination on advancing the implementation of the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa.”
The announcement followed the pledge by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
On a tour of Kenya, Eritrea and the Comoros in January, Mr Wang Yi had pledged to name a special envoy for the Horn, currently troubled with incidents of instability.
The Foreign Minister’s ‘Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa’, a programme by Beijing to support regional countries in achieving lasting peace and security and embracing development, involved naming a dedicated diplomat for the role.
The region, one of China’s growing markets is facing challenges such as the crisis in Sudan which is struggling to establish a transitional government after the coup, Somalia’s delayed elections, Ethiopia’s conflict in Tigray and South Sudan’s stalled transition.
China’s Xue Bing will join a growing list of special envoys for the Horn.
The UN also named Hannah Teteh the Under Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary General to the African Union. She will also be the head of the UN to the African Union.
Others are Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo for the AU, David Satterfield for the US (he replaced Jeffrey Feltman last month) and the European Union's Annette Weber.
Beijing, though, says it believes African countries can resolve their crisis with support, and has opposed external sanctions on Ethiopia and Eritrea. Both the US and China have strategic interests in the Horn, especially as it is a crucial sea route for their goods.