President of the Republic of Benin Patrice Athanase Guillaume Talon paid a state visit to China from August 31 to September 3, where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Qiang, and the country’s top legislator Zhao Leji. On September 1, the two heads of state announced the establishment of a China-Benin strategic partnership.
“This visit, which comes one week after Chinese president’s trip to South Africa, aims to consolidate the dynamic and pragmatic cooperation between Benin and China, as well as strengthen the sincere dialogue on bilateral and international issues since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations in 1972,” said Élisée Héribert-Label Adjovi, governor of the pan-African magazine Le Label Diplomatique and president of the Pan-African Journalists' Caucus, in a recent interview with GDToday.
Programs planned to attract more Chinese investment in Benin
“What I expect from the talks between presidents of Benin and China is to speed up the implementation of the actions agreed by both parties at the end of the fifth meeting of the China-Benin Mixed Commission on Economic, Trade and Technical Cooperation,” Adjovi said.
He elaborated that during the meeting held in July 2023, the two sides of Benin and China exchanged in-depth views on implementing the “Nine Programs” of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, namely the medical and health program, the poverty reduction and agricultural development program, the trade promotion program, the investment promotion program, the digital innovation program, the green development program, the capacity building program, the cultural and people-to-people exchange program, and the peace and security program.
Adjovi told GDToday that through furthering the cooperation with China, Benin expects to create a Sino-Beninese Investment Fund to attract more Chinese companies to the Glo-Djigbé Industrial Zone, set up a mechanism for co-investment cooperation through joint ventures with Chinese companies, and seek support from the China-Africa Development Fund for the development of Chinese companies in Benin.
“We are also looking forward to strengthening cooperation with the Chinese province of Guangdong.” Adjovi recalled that during the 2nd Invest in Africa Forum, which was held in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong, in September 2016, Talon expressed the wish to set up a trade office in the province “to promote the arrival of Chinese investors in Benin, as well as the entry of Beninese economic operators into the Chinese market”.
“I’m convinced that a win-win partnership will be established between Benin and Guangdong as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) dynamic, especially in the areas of ports, information and communication technologies, industry, and trade,” Adjovi noted.
“Relations with China, a model for Benin’s cooperation with other countries”
“Benin-China relations are based on frank dialogue on bilateral cooperation issues, as well as a shared vision of how the world should move forward. China’s assistance to Benin has never been subject to political conditions,” Adjovi said.
He elaborated that 51 years of Benin-China cooperation have produced achievements in infrastructure development, including roads, stadiums, hospitals, and schools, as well as talent training and medical aid.
Adjovi took the BRI cooperation as an example. “Benin officially joined the BRI in 2019. This Initiative represents an opportunity to share development experience, particularly in the areas of agriculture, education, digital technology, health, economic development, and infrastructure. It’s a good example of skills and technology transfer, which interests most countries on the African continent.”
“The relations with China have become a model for Benin’s cooperation with other countries, whether in government assistance, agriculture and fisheries, industry, public works, public health, energy, trade, or human resources,” Adjovi said.
Reporter | Lydia Liu
Poster designer | Mia
Editor | Wing Zhang, Steven Yuen, James
Wang Ziqing (intern) and Fan Qinwan (intern) also contributed to the article.