Salute the 11 Years of China-South Sudan Relations

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By Mr. MA Wenjun, Charge d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in South 

Congratulations on the 11th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of South Sudan and the establishment of China-South Sudan diplomatic relations!

On July 9, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan was founded. On the same day, China and South Sudan established diplomatic relations, and the two sisterly countries in Asia and Africa, though separated by thousands of miles, have been more closely linked since then. As a Chinese saying goes, “Even mountains and seas cannot distance people with shared aspirations.” 11 years have passed fairly quickly, and China-South Sudan relations have gone through an extraordinary journey. The newly born South Sudan has been moving forward in twists and turns with useful explorations. The peace process of South Sudan is slow but sure. Peace has become the trend of the times and the aspiration of the people in South Sudan.

Under the personal care and guidance of H.E. President Xi Jinping and H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the past years has witnessed the healthy and stable development of China-South Sudan friendly bilateral relations, the frequent high-level exchanges between the two countries, the continuously deepened political mutual trust, and the fruitful outcomes of our practical cooperation, which have delivered tangible benefits to the two peoples. China and South Sudan closely coordinate and cooperate under multilateral frameworks such as the United Nations by upholding the true multilateralism, which contributes to the just cause of protecting the common interests of the two countries, safeguarding the sovereignty and dignity of the vast developing countries, and promoting global peace and development. No matter how the international situation evolves, China-South Sudan friendly relations have always been dynamic and increasingly mature.

Looking back at the 11 years, we would like to pay high tribute to those who promote the peace process in South Sudan.

Peace is the basis of development and holds the key to the better future of South Sudan.The past 2 years of my stay in Juba has witnessed that the Transitional National Legislature has been reconstituted, the local governance structure have been established, the transitional security arrangements have achieved major breakthroughs, and the graduation and deployment of the necessary unified forces is around the corner. These achievements are gratifying and encouraging. The hustle and bustle in the streets of Juba becomes the evidence that the peace is reshaping the social order and people’s lives in the country. 

Behind this, as the principal actors who have responsibilities for taking charge during the peace process, the relevant parties of the Transitional Government of South Sudan think in big-picture terms, overcome contradictions and differences, demonstrate political determination, and seek the largest possible common ground of the peace process. The people of South Sudan are opposed to returning to war and yearn for a better life, which has fundamentally ensured that the peace process in South Sudan is going in the right direction. IGAD, the African Union, the United Nations and various international partners have actively promoted the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan, and the Community of Sant’ Egidio has continued to mediate the armed forces outside the Revitalized Agreement to join the ceasefire arrangements. These international efforts have significantly safeguarded the South Sudanese peace process.

As an international witness to the Revitalized Agreement, China has always respected the sovereignty and independent position of South Sudan and supported South Sudan in exploring a development path that suits its national conditions. China has supported the peace process with concrete actions including taking the lead in providing in-kind assistance to the unified forces in South Sudan and carrying out a number of cooperation projects with the UN agencies as well as international and regional institutions. The Chinese Embassy and the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UOJSS) jointly launched the “My Peace” theme report project to show the peace dividend of South Sudan and encourage the South Sudanese people to devote themselves to national construction.In Juba and Wau, young Chinese peacekeepers are actively working to reduce local conflicts and improve people’s well-being. To fulfill their peace missions, some Chinese soldiers even sacrificed their precious lives here in South Sudan. Chinese people always say that “Even the shortest journey can’t be finished without taking the first step.” It requires the unremitting efforts of all parties to achieve the peace process. China will work with the international community to continue to provide support and assistance to South Sudan in implementing the Revitalized Agreement, so as to help the people of South Sudan live a stable and peaceful life at an early date.

Looking back at the 11 years, we would like to pay high tribute to those who have devoted themselves to China-South Sudan cooperation.

The development of China-South Sudan relations is inseparable from the Chinese enterprises that have deeply cultivated the pragmatic cooperation between the two countries. During the two internal armed conflicts in 2013 and 2016, Chinese oil company was the only foreign partner who chose to stay and repaired the destroyed facilities in the 3/7 oil field, making a significant contribution to maintaining the economic lifeline of South Sudan and reducing the environmental pollution brought by oil facility destruction in the wars. Adhering to the concept of green environmental protection, Chinese oil companies have made every effort to ensure safe production and environmental protection in the process of increasing and resuming production in the oilfield, and provide advanced and applicable technologies and high-quality services for oilfield production, driving the development of the oil service industry in South Sudan. Chinese oil companies have actively shouldered their social responsibilities and aided the construction of the University of Juba Computer Center, the Juba No.3 Protection of Civilians(POC), and a hospital, and worked with other foreign investors to build schools, clinics, water wells, water stations, roads, and life power lines in communities around the oil area. They have donated more than 100 million U.S.D. in total, benefiting more than 1 million people in South Sudan.

Chinese enterprises spared no effort to successfully complete and deliver the South Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Conference Hall, two middle schools, Juba Teaching Hospital (Phase I), Kiir Mayardit Women’s Hospital in Rumbek, and Juba International Airport renovation projects. The China-Aided Technical Cooperation Project of Education has helped South Sudan to compile and print millions of textbooks for mathematics, science and English for primary and secondary school students in South Sudan, so that more than 150,000 students have books to read. As we speak, Chinese workers are braving the scorching sun and heavy rains to build the China-aided Jur River Bridge (Wau), the SSBC Broadcasting Facilities and the Air Traffic Management System in South Sudan. Despite difficulties in payment, security and local materials, they are also building the Juba-Rumbek road. There are also some Chinese citizens who run supermarkets, hotels, and hospitals, and engage in logistics and trade. These hard-working Chinese have made positive contributions to improving the connectivity in the country, promoting the economic and social development, and facilitating people’s lives in South Sudan.

We should also thank the South Sudanese employees who have worked hard for the China-South Sudan cooperation projects. When in the internal conflicts broke out in Juba in December 2013, Mr. Athuai Deng Akok, Business Manager of South Sudan Branch of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), helped his Chinese colleagues to arrive at Nimule amid gunfire. Risking his own life, Athuai Deng Akok returned alone to the office and stayed there for 3 months, safeguarding the company’s equipment and assets from robbery and damage. This May, Mr. Athuai Deng Akok was awarded the “Ambassador of Silk Road Friendship”, making him a symbol in the advancement of China-South Sudan high-quality“Belt and Road”cooperation. There are not a few South Sudanese employees like him who guard the companies and love the companies. According to rough statistics, Chinese companies have employed more than 10,000 local staff in South Sudan. They and the tens of thousands of families behind them are not only the beneficiaries of China-South Sudan cooperation, but also critical contributors to China-South Sudan friendly relations.

 

Looking back at the 11 years, we would like to pay high tribute to those who have contributed to China-South Sudan friendship.

For making acquaintances, the most valuable thing is mutual understanding, and for people to have mutual understanding, the key lies in knowing what is on each other’s mind. Over the past 11 years, China and South Sudan have conducted frequent exchanges and cooperation on the fields of education, health, culture, and youth. So far, more than 5,000 South Sudanese have gone to China to study through Chinese government scholarships and training projects. They are now playing an active role in all walks of life in South Sudan, working for this young country with their hard work and wisdom, and building up the friendship between China and South Sudan. With the help of South Sudanese alumni studying in China, the Chinese Embassy successfully implemented the “Panda Package” assistance project in Jonglei State, sending the care from the China Foundation for Rural Development to children in flood-stricken areas. 

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, China has successively sent 9 batches of medical teams to South Sudan. They have provided free diagnosis and treatment to local people at Juba Teaching Hospital, provided free medical treatment in many local areas, successfully performed a series of difficult operations, saving numerous lives in South Sudan. Several Chinese teachers from the China-aided Technical Cooperation Project of Education have traveled across the ocean to offer Chinese language training courses in South Sudan. Many South Sudanese students thus have the opportunities to learn to sing Chinese songs, write Chinese calligraphy, and practice Chinese Kung Fu.

Since last year, we have launched a series of activities of “Reading with the Chinese Embassy” by recommending and presenting high-quality Chinese books to friends in South Sudan. Not long ago, the embassy held an offline reading salon, and invited young South Sudanese readers to actively share their reading experiences and suggestions on China-South Sudan relations. Books have become the bridge to promote mutual understanding between our two peoples. The popularity of the reading project has reflected the solid social foundation of China-South Sudan friendship.

There is a folk proverb in South Sudan, “Cows are born with ears; later they grow horns”. In China, a famous line of an ancient Chinese poem also reads, “Riding the winds and cleaving the waves, I will set cloud-like sail to cross the vast ocean.” In the second decade of South Sudan and China-South Sudan relations, it’s my firm belief that as long as we have full confidence, patience and determination, we will be able to overcome all difficulties and challenges on the way forward and build this new decade into a “Golden Decade” for the peace and development of South Sudan, and for the stable and prosperous development of the mutually beneficial China-South Sudan relations!

In closing, I sincerely wish South Sudan lasting peace, stability, and prosperity, wish South Sudanese people greater happiness and better lives!

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