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Cameroon’s President Paul Biya expected to visit China next year

By Kimeng Hilton Ndukong (People's Daily Online)    13:34, July 17, 2017

Cameroon and China established diplomatic relations 46 years ago. Ever since, the level of cooperation between the two countries in various fields has continued to grow from strength to strength. China’s Vice Foreign Affairs Minister, Zhang Ming, was in Cameroon last month on an official visit. He met with President Biya on June 28 and extended the invitation of President Xi Jinping for him to visit China. He was accompanied to the Presidency by China’s Ambassador to Cameroon, His Excellency Wei Wenhua.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Ming meets President Paul Biya to pass on President Xi Jinping's invitation for him to visit China.

Speaking to reporters after meeting President Biya, Zhang Ming said it was the wish of the two leaders to pay greater attention to the growth of bilateral ties between the two countries. He said the summit meeting between Paul Biya and Xi Jinping was expected to take place “as soon as possible.” A dependable source at the Cameroon Embassy in Beijing said the visit of President Biya to China will take place next year.

Prospects of even better relations

Zhang Ming expressed satisfaction after talks with President Biya that lasted over an hour. “I had the great honour to be received by His Excellency President Paul Biya. I passed on to him the cordial greetings and best wishes of President Xi Jinping,” Zhang Ming told State House correspondents. He said the upcoming meeting between leaders of the two countries will “contribute greatly to strengthening friendly relations in all domains.”

Belt and Road opportunities

The Chinese Vice Foreign Affairs Minister said they discussed various aspects of “rich and beneficial” cooperation between the two countries. “President Biya expressed appreciation for China’s active support to the socio-economic development of Cameroon,” Zhang Ming said. He expressed China’s wish through the Belt and Road Initiative to assist Cameroon become an emergent economy by 2035.

President Paul Biya meets Chinese Ambassador

Earlier on March 3, 2017, Ambassador Wei Wenhua met President Paul Biya and presented President Xi Jinping’s invitation for the Cameroonian leader to visit China. “I passed on a verbal message from President Xi Jinping to President Paul Biya. In the message, President Xi Jinping highly appreciates the constant efforts of President Paul Biya to develop friendly Sino-Cameroon relations. He hopes to work with his counterpart, President Paul Biya, to deepen mutual confidence and to promote friendly cooperation between the two countries,” Ambassador Wei Wenhua later told State House correspondents.

Last March Chinese Ambassador to Cameroon Wei Wenhua  met President Paul Biya during which he discussed President Xi Jinping's invitation.

President Biya’s meeting with the Chinese Ambassador was the second in less than three months. The Chinese diplomat was at Unity Palace on January 11, 2017 during which he pledged his country’s determination to reinforce existing win-win cooperation between Yaounde and Beijing that grows with each passing day.

Cameroon, land of many opportunities

“The harmonious cooperation between our two countries intensifies year after year. The two countries also maintain high-level exchange visits. I wish to mention among others the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi in January 2015 to Cameroon and that of the Prime Minister of Cameroon, Yang Philemon to China in June of that same year,” Cameroon’s Ambassador to China, Martin Mpana, said last May at the National Day reception in Beijing.

“The future of cooperation between China and Cameroon is promising. Proof of this is the recent invitation sent to President Paul Biya to visit China by his counterpart, President Xi Jinping. This visit will certainly create durable impact on the relationship between the two nations. In effect, Cameroon remains a country of many opportunities despite present circumstances,” Martin Mpana added.

Friends indeed!

From the time China and Cameroon established bilateral ties 46 years ago, both parties have been working tooth and nail to uphold and deepen the ties. Fruits on the ground tell of friends indeed who are permanently ready to come to each other’s assistance in times of need.

While China praises Cameroon and Africa for standing by it thanks to which China was readmitted into the United Nations in 1971, Cameroon on its part cannot write its development story without giving prominent space to China. The Asian giant today stands as one of the great financiers and development springboards of Cameroon’s growth vision.

The recently completed Lom Pangar dam is one of the many major infrastructure projects funded and built in Cameroon by China.

Major Chinese projects, dependable funding

Ensuring the funding of multifaceted projects as well as bringing in its huge expertise to bear on their effective execution is China’s hallmark in the fruitful Sino-Cameroonian ties. Life-changing projects like the Kribi Deep Seaport, Doula-Yaounde double-carriage road, Yaounde Conference Centre, Wada Multipurpose Sports Complex, Bafoussam and Limbe Stadiums as well as wide-ranging hydro-electricity dams among many others, are visible examples of fruitful cooperation between the two countries worth upholding and deepening.

Growing trade exchanges

Cameroon and China have enjoyed good cooperation ties in the past 46 years, with commercial exchanges from 2008 to 2017 standing at about 2 Billion US Dollars. Between 2008 and 2015, China granted Cameroon loans worth 3 Billion US Dollars, mainly for infrastructure, road construction and telecommunications development.

Several bilateral cooperation deals were signed during President Paul Biya's last visit to China.

President Paul Biya decorates senior Chinese banker

President Paul Biya on June 6, 2016, issued a decree exceptionally awarding the Medal of Grand Officer of National Valour to Li Ruogu, former President of EXIM Bank of China. The recipient was decorated in Beijing on May 19, 2017 by Ambassador Martin Mpana on the occasion of Cameroon’s 45th National Day (which is actually on May 20).

Representing the Chinese government at the event was Zhang Ming, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Ambassador said the bestowal was in recognition of Li Ruogu’s facilitation of Cameroon’s receipt of financial assistance from EXIM Bank of China between 2009 and 2015. He added that the conferment by President Biya was in acknowledgement of Li Ruogu’s “high level of respect and managerial skills.”

Appreciating President Paul Biya

Responding, Li Ruogu said the medal was a great personal honour and recognition of the work of EXIM Bank of China. He thanked President Biya, noting that the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in South Africa in December 2015 has contributed immensely to the continent’s sustainable development. “As President of EXIM Bank, I witnessed the evolution of Cameroon under the leadership of President Biya. I was proud to be part of this cooperation,” Li Ruogu stated.

Former EXIM Bank China president Li Ruogu (2nd L) after his decoration on behalf of Cameroon’s President Paul Biya on May 19, 2017 at a reception to mark Cameroon’s National Day in Beijing.

Ambassador Mpana commends Belt and Road Initiative

Martin Mpana also revisited the Chinese-driven Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that held in Beijing from May 14-15, 2017. He said President Xi Jinping’s opening address at the event “ushers in a new era of world governance and inaugurates a highway for peace and development in the 21st Century.” The Ambassador thanked China for ensuring that Cameroon becomes emergent by 2035 and for its support in the war against Boko Haram terrorists.

Gathering of Cameroon’s friends, partners

Also present at the National Day celebration was former Indomitable Lions Captain, Stéphane Mbia, (who now plays professional football in China), retired Chinese Ambassador to Cameroon, Xue Jinwei and several Chinese business executives who came to discover “winning Cameroon” as a good investment destination.

Kimeng Hilton Ndukong is Sub-Editor for World News with Cameroon Tribune bilingual daily newspaper in Cameroon. He is currently on media attachment with People’s Daily Online in English. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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