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Remarks by Amb Tan Jian at the Handover Ceremony of China Food Aid to Ethiopia
2018/03/14

Your Excellency Mr. Mitiku Kassa, Commissioner of National Disaster Risk Management Commission, Ethiopia;

Your Excellency Mr. Samir Wanmali, Acting Representative and Country Director of WFP in Ethiopia;

Distinguished guests;

Ladies and gentlemen;

Good Afternoon.

(Backdrop)

Ever since September 2015, Ethiopia has been suffering the worst drought in the past half century, induced by El Nino. As a result, not much rainfall for several years in a running, sharply reduced crop output and decimated livestock herds.

What's more, the unstable situation and conflict in the sub-region, causing large influx of refugees, have only made things worse. Ethiopia hosts the second largest number of refugees in Africa.

According to most recent Humanitarian Requirements Document publicized by Ethiopian Government, the number of drought victims requiring emergency food assistance amounts to 8.5 million.

(China's Contribution)

Distinguished guests,

We sympathize with Ethiopia on the natural disaster. And we appreciate Ethiopia's efforts of taking refugees as a responsible country.

The international community shall be no bystanders. And China is not.

A Chinese saying goes that "when disaster struck, help came from all sides". This is our philosophy, which should be the shared spirit of humanity. China has come forward to demonstrate our solidarity with the Ethiopian people.

A friend in need is a friend in deed.

The Chinese Government has so far provided four rounds of emergency aid to Ethiopia:

l bilateral aid of 10,535 tons of wheat worth of USD 7.6 million in 2016;

l USD 8 million cash donation to WFP in 2016;

l bilateral aid of 17,000 tons of wheat worth of USD 15 million in 2017;

l and USD 6 million cash donation to WFP for Ethiopian drought victims, in 2017.

Up to now, Chinese aid to Ethiopia amounts to roughly USD 36.6 million, making China the third largest food aid contributor to Ethiopia.

China's assistance to Ethiopia is South-South Cooperation in nature. It has the following features.

A. It has been provided through both bilateral and multilateral channels. B. No political strings attached, it is solely in the interest and for the good of the recipient country.

C. This assistance is grant, that is, aid, not debt. I wish to highlight this point, given the recent allegations and accusations that China's approach in Africa has aggravated Africa's debt burden.

(Addressing the root causes)

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thanks to the earnest and tireless efforts by the Ethiopian Government, supported by its international partners, a potential famine was successfully avoided.

Congratulations!

We believe the great victory against this severe drought is coming soon.

Yet the fight is far from over.

We shall look deeper and address the root causes of the drought disaster.

We Chinese believe that, for a weak person, blood transfusion is needed in time of urgency, but what is more fundamental is the blood making capacity of the human body.

Here I wish to highlight four points.

1. Promoting a holistic approach to disaster reduction.

It is more than food handouts to the starved. The international community shall help LDCs to build capacity in disaster prevention, mitigation and management. Early warning mechanism and information sharing are important. In this regard, we welcome and support international organizations like WFP to lead and coordinate.

2. Strengthening a stronger agriculture sector in LDCs.

Ethiopia, like many other LDCs, is basically an agricultural country. We Chinese people believe "food is the first necessity of the people". Indeed, Agriculture development is key to eradicating hunger and poverty. International community shall promote cooperation and increase technical and financial assistance to the agricultural sector, including building irrigation system, water conservancy projects and introducing farming machineries so as to raise agricultural productivity and increase food security.

3. Combating climate change.

This drought is not really a natural disaster. It is caused by El Nino, which is closely related to climate change, which is resulted from human activities.

Ethiopian has been very active in global climate change campaign, representing the LDCs.

China is ready and willing to work closely with Europe, and the US of course, as well as LDCs, LLDCs to win the fight against the climate change.

4. Promoting peace and stability in the region.

The drought disaster this time has been coupled with refugee issue as a result of regional conflicts. We appreciate the active diplomacy by Ethiopia to restore peace and stability. It is our hope that, with the robust support from the international partners, conflicts will be solved soon.

(Concluding)

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before conclusion, please allow me to say a few words on China's cooperation with Africa.

In conducting China's relations with Africa, we adhere to the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests. China and Africa will forever remain good friends, good partners and good brothers.

China-Africa cooperation in general and China-Ethiopia cooperation in particular covers many areas. In addition to food aid, it also includes developing agriculture, clean energy, human resources, building infrastructure, and protecting wildlife, etc.

China is ready and willing to strengthen not only South-South Cooperation, but also tripartite cooperation.

China itself has benefited from the international cooperation. Take WFP for example, China received its financial and technical assistance starting from the 1970s, and has become its partner and a contributing country today.

Let's join hands and take concrete actions to help Africa to achieve peace, stability and development.

This is not just in the interest of African people. It is also the common interest of the humanity.

Thank you very much.

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