China on Tuesday vowed to step up its support for its newest ally, The Gambia and beef up cooperation on infrastructure construction, agriculture, and tourism.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with his Gambian counterpart, Ousainou Darboe in Beijing after the resumed diplomatic ties with Beijing last year.
The Gambia’s ex-President Yahya Jammeh ditched Taiwan in 2013 in hopes to resume relations with mainland China and its new’s government pledge to continue relations.
Darboe, who is on a week long visit to China also met State Councilor Yang Jiechi, China’s top diplomat.
“Since China and Gambia resumed diplomatic ties in March 2016, bilateral relations have come back to the right track, opening up broad prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation,” Wang said.
“We are ready to enhance cooperation with Gambia in infrastructure, agriculture, tourism and other fields. China will deepen mutual political trust with Gambia, consolidate cooperation and expand civil exchanges.”
Former Chinese special envoy on African affairs Liu Guijin said that due to a lack of diplomatic relations in the past, Gambia missed a period of rapid development in China’s assistance to Africa.
“But now Gambia has good relations with Beijing. So it will benefit from measures to help Africa raised at the Johannesburg summit,” Liu said. Gambia now also will see increasing Chinese investment, he said.
China on Monday has agreed to cancel Gambia’s debt to the Southeast Asian nation and The Gambia has agreed to give Chinese good unrestricted access to its market.
Chinese and French companies are bidding to help Gambia build up its Atlantic port of Banjul to be what industry sources say could be a rival to neighboring Senegal’s Dakar.
It would be one of the first major structural changes in Gambia following the end of Jammeh’s more than 20-year rule in January.
(Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Additional Reporting from News Agencies; Editing by Sainey MK Marenah)