China’s Premier Li Qiang told visiting Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki on Monday their countries should “deepen mutually beneficial win-win cooperation and continuously enrich their strategic partnership” at a meeting in Beijing.
On the Red Sea, Eritrea could be geopolitically important for China, with its access to the Suez Canal and Europe to the north and the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean to the southeast, as China seeks to bolster its presence in the Horn of Africa.
Eritrea also shares a border with Djibouti, where China’s People’s Liberation Army set up its first overseas military base in 2017.
“The contributions made by the People’s Republic of China to transform the world order into a more just and fair relationship among people and nations will definitely cause global challenges and transform the systems that we have,” Afwerki, who has held office since Eritrea gained independence from neighboring Ethiopia in 1993, told Li.
In March, Eritrea’s foreign ministry called a U.S. State Department ruling that its military had committed war crimes in a two-year conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region “unsubstantiated and defamatory.”
The “marginalized continent of Africa and the rest of the world will heavily defend and expect more contributions from the People’s Republic of China,” Afwerki said.