Is China intending to rescue EPRDF while pursing its business interest in Ethiopia?
With increasing economic and cultural presence in the Ethiopia, China seem to think that saving EPRDF, which is rattled with internal and external pressure, is in its interest.
Chinese Communist Party (CPC) delegates held talks with the ruling coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) leaders Shifereaw Shigute and Fetlework Gebreegziabhier (Monjorino) at the party’s headquarter in the capital Addis Ababa, the party disclosed this afternoon on its official social media page.
Unusual for the party, the party used the titles “Guade” and “Guadit” (both equivalents of the English word comrade) to refer to Shiferaw Shigute and Fetlework respectively.
Wang Xiao, Deputy director of CPC policy research with a ministerial rank, led the delegation to Ethiopia. Chinse president Xi Jinping sent out delegates to ten different countries, including Ethiopia. Stated mission of the delegation is to brief authorities in these countries about the 19th Congress of CPC and key decisions passed during the Congress.
The leader of the delegation, Wang Xiao, seems to take the inclusion of Ethiopia among the ten countries to which CPC delegates are sent as a measure of enhanced cooperation between China and Ethiopia.
The CPC envisions to create economically and culturally powerful China by the year 2050. China’s ambition for cultural domination through “sharp power”, as published in The Economist in December 2017, is noted in the west.
Shiferaw Shigute, Head of EPRDF office, and Fetlework, Urban politics sector coordinator, briefed the Chinese delegates on what they believe is an “achievement” of their party. Under EPRDF, claimed Shferaw, the number of Ethiopians who were below the poverty lives is reduced by half; an assertion many Ethiopians would not purchase.
He also claimed that the constitution is “based on diversity” has become a guarantee for “peace, democracy, and development.” This is another that Ethiopians would reject entirely. After nearly three weeks of the evaluative meeting following prevalent instability in the country, the ruling EPRDF confessed that it has committed egregious “mistakes” and let Ethiopians down.
The party has been killing innocent Ethiopians during peaceful demonstrations or otherwise with impunity. Just two days ago, security forces deployed by the regime killed at least seven civilians during a religious festival in Woldia, north-central Ethiopia.
The CPC delegates expressed Chinese government readiness for sharing CPC experience as an arrangement is made for EPRDF party leaders to travel to China to learn from CPC.
Party Magazine of EPRDF, Addis Raeye, wrote in Amharic, which was shared on its social media page, “despite Neoliberal policies are proved to be a failure, Neoliberal forces are unrestrained to impose their policies that do not work on countries like ours”
IMF director, Christine Lagarde, was in Ethiopia in December 2017 and there are rumors that the IMF and The World Bank advised the regime in Ethiopia to further devaluate Ethiopian currency or face economic collapse.
The Ethiopian government has huge borrowings from Chinese banks and it seems to have the interest to deepen political link with the Chinese government as implicitly indicated in a meeting with Chinese Communist Party delegates.
China does not have similar political ideology with the one in Ethiopia. With more than 56 ethnic groups, although many of them are minorities, Chinese government is unitary while Ethiopia is divided along ethnic lines which is the foundation of the federal system. Even the ethnic-based Federalism is sham and still dominated by TPLF despite some challenges as two major parties from within the ruling coalition, EPRDF.
Perhaps China is not oblivious about the difference but China’s government business in Ethiopia is “business” , to borrow the words of Robert Hailbroner from his 21st century capitalism. As in most most African countries, China invested billions of dollars in Ethiopia and Chinese community is growing from time to time. In terms of cultural presence, Chinese language is already being given in the country’s leading institutin of higher learning, Addis Ababa University.
Politicized Ethiopians criticize TPLF for aspiring ethno-chauvinist mentality and ethnic-based wealth creation that enriched is base in Tigray which constitutes less than six percent of Ethiopia’s hundred million population. TPLF party conglomerte alone has amassed well over $6 billion registered capital and is dominating the economy in different sectors.
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