Togo eyes key place in China’s New Silk Road

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) welcomes  Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe before their talks in Beijing, capital of China, May 30 (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) welcomes Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe before their talks in Beijing, capital of China, May 30 (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)

Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe on Friday disclosed the vision of his country to become the “anchor point” in West Africa for the new Silk Road initiative forwarded by China.

“Togo intends to be the anchor point in West Africa for the New Silk Road initiative supported by China and which is based on ties between countries through land and maritime infrastructures,” Gnassingbe said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua in Lome, Togo’s capital, shortly before his departure for a state visit to China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Belt and Road Initiative, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.

The Togolese head of state noted that China is committed to aiding African countries in their economic structural changes. In this regard, he underscored that Togo “possess many advantages to serve as a gateway” for West Africa.

“We are from now on at a turning point that will be crucial if the private sector actually takes action. The onus is on us governments to know how to accompany it and gain their merited confidence,” he explained.

He said his country strongly wishes to enjoy, like during the last decade, an enhanced support from China on infrastructure, especially on roads, railways, ports and airports.

Gnassingbe considered this “a necessary condition” that will enable Togo to develop a logistics corridor that will help improve the competitiveness of its economy and make it the logistics hub for West Africa.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping and visiting Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe agreed in their talks on Monday to promote bilateral ties to a new level through enhanced cooperation in various fields.

Invited by Xi, Gnassingbe is paying a state visit to China from May 29 to June 2.

The China-Togo friendship was forged and cultivated by the late Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema and several generations of Chinese leaders, Xi said, noting their relationship has become a model of ties between large and small countries.

China-Togo cooperation has bright prospects since the two economies are highly complementary, Xi said.

The two sides should strengthen political mutual trust, continue high-level contact, enhance friendly exchanges between governments, political parties, legislative bodies and at local levels, said Xi.

Both countries should enhance policy communication and overall planning for bilateral cooperation, according to the Chinese president.

Xi pledged China will encourage its businesses and financial institutions to support Togolese infrastructure construction and help the nation establish an industrial system of independent and sustainable development.

China is ready to push forward agricultural technology cooperation with Togo to enhance the latter’s agricultural added value and increase farmers’ income, said Xi.

In security cooperation, China is willing to strengthen bilateral ties in combating piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and transnational organized crime, said Xi, adding China will help Togo enhance its capacity building in national defense and stability maintenance.

In people-to-people relations, Xi noted that China stands ready to push forward cooperation with Togo in culture, education, travel and other areas and increase exchanges between youth, women, media and think tanks.

The two countries can also enhance collaboration in African peace and stability, UN-designated 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other major global and regional issues, in order to safeguard the rights of developing countries and promote democracy in international relations, Xi said.

China and Africa have always been a community with a shared future, Xi said, stressing China will implement the outcomes of the latest summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) last December in Johannesburg in a comprehensive manner to seek win-win results and common development.

Gnassingbe said Togo appreciates China’s long-term support and assistance to the country, vowing to enhance bilateral cooperation in various fields.

Togo hopes China will continue to back the country in improving people’s livelihood, agriculture, infrastructure, port economic development, peace, security and other areas, Gnassingbe said.

He pledged that Togo welcomes more Chinese companies to invest in the country and will create favorable policy and legal conditions for them.

Speaking highly of China’s role in international affairs and the Belt and Road Initiative, Gnassingbe stressed Togo is ready to work with China to actively implement the results of the FOCAC Johannesburg summit.

Togo regards China as the most sincere friend of the country and Africa, he said, noting that Togo firmly adheres to the one-China principle.

Following the talks, the two heads of state witnessed a signing ceremony of cooperative documents.