The Chinese government announced on December 30 that its foreign minister, Wang Yi, will visit Eritrea, Kenya and the Comoros Islands from January 4 to 7, and then will continue in the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
The choice of the mission to Africa, according to a statement by the spokesperson of the foreign ministry, Zhao Lijian, is part of a 32-years old tradition of inaugurating the new year with state visits to the African continent, to demonstrate and strengthen China’s priority and strategic relationship with the countries of the continent.
Observers have noticed that the visit favored five littoral states of the Indian Ocean, all of which are of interest to China in the context of the development of the One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR), where the search for infrastructures and seaports is an integral part of the development of Beijing’s strategies.
While no communication was issued by the Eritrean government regarding the visit of the Chinese foreign minister on January 4, President Isaias Afwerki attended on January 2 the funeral of the elderly political leader Btsai Romodan Mohammed Nur, who died in Asmara on December 30.
Btsai Romodan was among the original members of the ELF (Eritrean Liberation Front), in 1964, and participated in the long conflict for the independence of Eritrea, later becoming one of the founders of the EPLF (Eritrean People’s Liberation Front) in 1970.
Last week’s controversy between Eritrea and the U.S., provoked by some critical messages published by the U.S. Embassy in Asmara regarding the indefinite duration of the national service, seems to have diminished in scope. Sporadic comments were published during the last week of the year by the Information Minister Yemane Meskel, albeit in a lesser tone and with the adoption of less explicit language.