China and the World’s Youngest Country
China and Africa have elevated their ties to that of “comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership” last December, and the relationship between China and South Sudan is just an exemplified case.
ON December 5, 2015, during the second Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced the action plans and political principles for what will be a new era in relations between the two sides. In recent years, Africa has become an important partner of China, and their ties go beyond the economic sector. This is also the case for the relationship between China and the world’s youngest country, South Sudan.
At the Johannesburg forum, in front of almost 50 African leaders, President Xi Jinping proposed that China and Africa elevate their ties to that of “comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership,” which rests on “five major pillars” of political equality and mutual trust, win- win economic cooperation, mutually enriching cultural exchanges, mutual assistance in security, and cooperation, solidarity and coordination in international affairs.
Located in northeastern Africa, South Sudan has more than 10 million inhabitants. It became an independent state on July 9, 2011, having suffered two armed conflicts in which around two million civilians were killed. It is both world’s youngest and least stable country, and one of the nations that most need help.
Unfortunately, just a few months after achieving independence, South Sudan suffered a civil war that displaced more than one million people internally and resulted in the flight of 190,000 refugees to bordering Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda. This dramatic situation motivated China’s collaboration and mediation.
“Last year, on the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, a meeting was held in Khartoum (capital of Sudan) in which Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi introduced a strategy to promote the peace process in South Sudan,” Ambassador of South Sudan to China Michael Milli Hussein said in an interview with ChinaToday.
Ambassador Hussein commended China’s sending an infantry battalion composed of 700 troops to South Sudan. In fact, this was a landmark decision, as it constituted assignment of the first Chinese group of infantry to a United Nations peacekeeping mission. “We are deeply grateful to China for its new commitments to peace preservation,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous said. China has been involved in the process of resolving the South Sudanese conflict since December 2013, when it started.
Challenges to a Young Nation
Ambassador Michael Milli Hussein’s expertise extends beyond the diplomatic sphere. A graduate of Egypt’s Alexandria University, he is also a doctor specializing in Tropical Medicine. His views, therefore, are important, especially as shortfalls in the healthcare sector are one of South Sudan’s main problems.
“South Sudan is a young country, barely four years old, and for any nation, the beginning is always difficult. We have needs in almost all areas,” Ambassador Hussein said. “Currently, China is assisting and giving training in South Sudan’s health sector. China supplies us with both medicine and the equipment necessary for our pharmaceutical industry, both of which are areas we want to expand.” In fact, Ambassador Hussein was in Taizhou of Jiangsu Province, known as China’s “Medical City,” at the beginning of January, investigating the possibility of establishing cooperative ties in this crucial sector.
Another important problem plaguing South Sudan’s first years of independence is its absence of adequate health infrastructure, an area in which China has much
Ambassador of South Sudan to China Michael Milli Hussein.