ABSTRACT

Ethiopia, as one of the least developed countries in the world, has always been labelled as poor, landlocked, and lacking in resources. With lots of features that Beijing may be uninterested in, China–Ethiopia relations have expanded and deepened in recent years both politically and economically. High-level visits have been maintained for 43 years, ever since the two countries established bilateral diplomatic relations in 1970. Emperor Haile Selassie, then-President Mengistu Haile Mariam, and then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Prime Minster Hailemariam visited China; while then-Vice Prime Minister Qian Qichen, President Jiang Zemin and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao have visited Ethiopia in return. The new president Mulatu Teshome even got his education in Beijing. Also, Ethiopia is one of the top four African recipients of China’s investment in the infrastructure sector. The three other countries are all oil-rich, including Angola, Sudan, and Nigeria (Raine, 2009, p. 43). Calculated from the data from AidData, Beijing has invested more than US$3.5 billion in infrastructure construction in Ethiopia between 2000 and 2011, mainly focused on energy and water supplies, as well as transportation. In 2007, the state was selected as one of the four countries (the others being energy-rich Nigeria, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC]) to receive soft loans for developing Africa’s infrastructure from China’s state financial institutions, including the Exim Bank (Thakur, 2009). It is also significant that Ethiopia was chosen to host the second ministerial conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), in December 2003, and it was the cohost of the China-Africa Summit in Beijing in 2006. Dukem was selected as one of the five areas in Africa that will host one of China’s Overseas Special Economic Zones. Additionally, China’s bilateral trade with Ethiopia has been growing rapidly, largely due to China’s promotional measures. The figure jumped from just US$32 million in 1992, to US$100 million in 2002, and to US$1.83 billion in 2012 (Ministry of Commerce [MOFCOM], 2013a). There were 580 registered Chinese companies in Ethiopia in 2010, with 1,065 investment projects, and operating with an estimated investment capital of US$2.2 billion (Raine, 2009, p. 43). What’s more, China funded the African Union (AU) headquarters located in Addis Ababa, which increased Ethiopia’s significance on the 174continent. Meanwhile, a large number of volunteers and medical assistance teams have been sent to Ethiopia, with an estimated number of between 5,000 and 10,000 skilled professionals (Gebre-Egziabher, 2009, p. 169).