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True friendship withstands adversity


Although the two countries are far apart, China and Djibouti enjoy a profound traditional friendship. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and President Ismail Omar Guelleh, the bilateral strategic partnership has maintained a high level of development, setting an example of mutual respect and win-win cooperation between big and small countries.

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the two nations have stood in solidarity. United in the fight against the pandemic, they have provided effective protection to the safety, health and well-being of the two peoples. Both sides adhere to the scientific spirit of carrying out international cooperation to trace the origins of the virus, opposing the politicization of the issue and jointly safeguarding the common interests of developing countries and international fairness and justice.

Health cooperation has always been an important aspect of China-Djibouti friendly cooperation. Since 1981--two years after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries-China has sent 20 groups of medical teams to Djibouti. About 400 Chinese medical workers have offered services to patients in local hospitals and helped improve the health and well-being of the Djiboutian people.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two nations have helped each other and stood in solidarity. The Chinese people will always remember, despite Djibouti being one of the world's least-developed countries, the nation overcame its own difficulties to donate $1 million to the Chinese government during the most difficult stage of China's pandemic fight. The donation came when China needed help the most and symbolized the strong bonds between the two countries. Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, the Djiboutian foreign minister and government spokesman, and Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, the general secretary of Djibouti's ruling party--the People's Rally for Progress--and minister of economy and finance, and other friends from all walks of life expressed confidence in China's eventual victory against the pandemic.

After the pandemic hit Djibouti, China felt deeply for the nation and took the lead in offering help. The Chinese government has so far provided four batches of anti-pandemic medical supplies and 500 metric tons of rice to the nation, and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region has provided one batch of medical supplies. Chinese businesses in Djibouti, the local Chinese chamber of commerce and the Red Cross Society of China have donated money and materials several times. In May 2020, a team of Chinese medical experts overcame various obstacles posed by the pandemic before arriving in Djibouti to provide professional services. Their dedication and superb medical skills were widely praised by the Djiboutian society. They were awarded the nation's highest honor--the Independence Day Medal. In March, the Chinese government provided 300,000 doses of vaccines to Djibouti in emergency assistance, making China the first country to have provided the African nation with vaccines through bilateral assistance. Djibouti was also the first East African country to have received Chinese vaccines.

The two sides have worked together to overcome the many challenges caused by the pandemic. The Djibouti National Library and Archives--a project assisted by the Chinese government--was completed and put into use. Cooperation projects, such as the regional hospital in Tadjoura and a special exhibition project that serves as part of the East African International Special Business Zone, have been steadily pushed forward. The projects have helped the nation fight the pandemic, stabilize economic growth and ensure people's livelihoods. Prime Minister Kamil Mohamed said: "In the middle of our difficult times, China did not sit back and watch, but stood with us and gave us help." The joint fight against the pandemic fully indicated and further solidified the bilateral strategic partnership and pushed the friendship cooperation to a new high.

The successful practice of jointly fighting against the pandemic stems from China and Djibouti both putting people first. Under the personal command and deployment of President Xi, the Chinese people have stood together and made concerted efforts to achieve major strategic results in the fight against COVID-19. The Djiboutian government quickly established a strategic partnership framework for the response to the pandemic, mobilizing the whole society and fighting the pandemic in a united manner.

In the face of the pandemic, solidarity and cooperation remain the most powerful weapons of the international community. The Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19, held in June last year, demonstrated the firm determination of China and African countries, including Djibouti, to join hands in the fight against the pandemic, and injected fresh impetus into the united global fight against the pandemic.

Both China and Djibouti respect science. The decisions and measures adopted by both nations in fighting the pandemic have followed the spirit of science, and both adhere to the common position of conducting international cooperation to trace the origins of the virus based on science.

Just as a Djiboutian health official said, the international community is now fully committed to the fight against the pandemic and should not create a second front that will cause division. Abdallah Abdillahi Miguil, the Djiboutian ambassador to China, said in an exclusive interview with People's Daily online that the international community should unite together, rather than politicizing or stigmatizing the pandemic.

In a statement issued on Aug 31, the Djiboutian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed opposition to the politicization of the origins tracing of COVID-19, saying that origins tracing is a scientific issue that must be solved by scientists. Employing intelligence agencies or other non-research institutions is not constructive, and will only lead to more divisions.

The virus will eventually be conquered. China and Djibouti have agreed to continue to intensify bilateral exchanges at all levels and in various fields, further consolidate the public support for their bilateral friendship, and continue to align the Belt and Road Initiative and the outcomes of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Beijing Summit with Vision Djibouti 2035. The two sides should better safeguard the common interests of developing countries and international fairness and justice.

China-Djibouti relations, which have withstood the severe test of the COVID-19, will be further invigorated and usher in better prospects, and will bring more benefits to the people of both countries and the world.

The author is Chinese ambassador to Djibouti. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.