Chinese cooperation starts arriving in Sao Tome and Principe

13 February 2017

Just over a month after the restoration of diplomatic relations between Sao Tome and Principe and the People’s Republic of China, Chinese cooperation is beginning to reach the archipelago in a process seen as strategically important by analysts of the Sino-African relationship.

Since last week, under the bilateral agreement in the health sector signed immediately after the restoration of diplomatic relations, in December 2016, a Chinese medical team is working in the archipelago’s hospital centres.

The head of the Chinese mission, Wang Jun Quiang, told Macauhub that the team of several specialists will have a six-month mission, supporting the largest hospital in Sao Tome, Ayres de Menezes, and other health centres in the archipelago.

The health sector, along with agriculture, energy and infrastructure are the priorities in the process of defining areas for the framework cooperation programme, which is expected to be signed soon along with embassies being opened in Beijing and Sao Tome.

The Director General of the West Asia and Africa Department of the PRC’s Trade ministry, Zhou Zhaoming, was recently in the archipelago heading up a Chinese multi-ministerial delegation and met with Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada.

This mission comes four days after the China Road & Bridge Corporation (CRBC) expressed interest in participating in projects aimed to build a deep water port at an estimated cost of US$800 million and the modernisation of the São Tomé international airport, which is expected to cost US$15 million.

With an estimated cost of about US$800 million, the first deep water port in the country is planned to be built in the Fernao Dias area, of the Lobata district 12 kilometres from the capital.

São Tomé and Príncipe and the Republic of China re-established diplomatic relations on 26 December last year at the expense of Taiwanese diplomatic relations, which cooperated with the archipelago in the same areas with monetary support estimated at US$16 million dollars annually.

The restoration of diplomatic relations will, according to the new Deputy Secretary-General of Forum Macau, Ding Tian, ​​allow for all the Portuguese-speaking countries to be part of the forum.

The future integration of Sao Tome and Principe will make “the whole Portuguese-speaking family will be together,” Ding told the Tribuna de Macau newspaper.

After the reestablishment of relations between the two countries, the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, proclaimed that his country is “willing to provide support for the economic and social development of Sao Tome and Principe, within its capabilities.”

The Harvard Politics Review, in a recent article, considers Sao Tome’s new link an example of the dynamism of the relationship promoted by China with the continent, which gains “economic benefits” as do the Chinese public and private sectors, to ensure contracts and raw materials.

Other non-quantifiable benefits of these approaches, a professor at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis Yong Deng said in the same article, include the rise of China to “great power status”, for which Africa “brings a tremendous amount of diplomatic weight in the change of political and diplomatic influence of a global order dominated by the United States and the West.” (macauhub)