Xiplomacy: China, Algeria mark anniversary of ties with eyes on stronger partnership
This photo taken on Feb. 24, 2022 shows the finished section of the remaining 84 km eastern section of the East-West Highway in El Tarf Province, Algeria. (Photo provided by CITIC Construction/Handout via Xinhua)
Over the past decades, China and Algeria have helped each other through thick and thin and rendered mutual understanding and support to each other.
BEIJING/ALGIERS, July 20 (Xinhua) -- With the opening of the Bejaia Highway in Algeria built by the China Railway Construction Corporation, truck driver Asloune Abdelghani's life was changed.
"Now I can arrive in Algiers in less than two hours. I am grateful for that," he told Xinhua.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Algeria. On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks in Beijing with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who is on a state visit to China.
Over the past decades, the two countries have helped each other through thick and thin and rendered mutual understanding and support to each other, and they have been true friends and natural partners in the pursuit of common development and national rejuvenation, Xi said.
China and Algeria were brought together 65 years ago by the common cause of opposing imperialism and colonialism and seeking national independence and liberation.
As early as 1958, when Algeria was not yet fully independent, China established diplomatic ties with the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic and became the first non-Arab country to recognize this government. Algeria was also back then one of the first African countries to forge diplomatic relations with China.
In 1963, one year after Algeria's independence, Algerian diplomat Noureddine Djoudi began campaigning for the restoration of the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China (PRC) at the United Nations.
"We had a strategy aiming at raising awareness of our African and Arab friendly countries to join us in supporting the restoration of China's legitimate right," Djoudi, now 89 years old, told Xinhua.
Eight years later, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted to restore all lawful rights of the PRC in the UN.
Djoudi, then assistant secretary-general of the Organization of African Unity, was among the witnesses to the special occasion. "Helping and supporting each other underscores the deep roots of our friendship," he said.
Over the past decades, the two nations have maintained this special and deep friendship, and are together paving the way to development. In 2014, Algeria became the first Arab country to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership with China.
During his talks with Tebboune, Chinese President Xi expressed China's readiness to work with Algeria to accelerate the implementation of the outcomes of the first China-Arab States Summit, advance the eight major initiatives of practical cooperation between China and Arab states, strengthen cooperation under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and deliver on the outcomes of the FOCAC Dakar conference, with a view to building a community with a shared future in the new era between China and Arab states and between China and Africa.
Smail Debeche, president of the Algeria-China Friendship Association, said he believes that the two countries firmly support each other on issues related to their core interests and major concerns, share the same stance on international and regional hotspot issues, and have great potential for mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields.
This photo taken on July 5, 2023 shows Qi Shujie, the deputy general manager of CITIC Construction Algeria, and Mohamed Salah Kafi, the head of the eastern region bureau of Algeria's National Highway Agency, together paving the last meter of the East-West Highway with asphalt in El Tarf Province, Algeria. (Photo provided by CITIC Construction/Handout via Xinhua)
"It took four to six hours to the capital Algiers, and a round trip meant a whole day," recalled Abdelghani, who lives in Algeria's agricultural province of Bejaia.
"The vegetables and fish on the trucks weren't fresh when the weather was hot," he said, adding that he was often frustrated by the congested and rugged roads.
On July 13, the main section of the Bejaia Highway was opened and enabled Abdelghani to reach Algiers in less than two hours.
Over the past 20 years, Chinese builders have paved about 700 km of highways in Algeria, benefiting 30 million people in different regions of the country.
In addition to highways, Algerian landmarks such as the Algiers Grand Mosque, Algiers International Airport and the Algiers International Conference Center were all constructed by Chinese companies.
Under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China's contributions go beyond infrastructure. During the construction of the East-West Highway, Chinese companies trained more than 16,000 Algerians to become skilled technicians.
"Young Algerian engineers who have accumulated experience and grown rapidly through long-term cooperation with their Chinese colleagues are highly skilled and represent the future of the construction industry in Algeria," said Mohamed Salah Kafi, head of the eastern region bureau in Algeria's National Highway Agency.
In June 2022, Tebboune attended the High-level Dialogue on Global Development chaired by President Xi, and Algeria joined the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative (GDI).
During Tebboune's visit to China, the two sides reached consensus on promoting cooperation in key areas under the framework of the GDI and accelerating the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In an interview with Xinhua, Basma Laboukh, an Algerian writer and political analyst, said the GDI is a valuable platform for international cooperation and a unique example of realizing common development.
The GDI aims to build a better world by overcoming challenges through collective strength, Laboukh said.
Members of a Chinese medical team to Algeria attend a ceremony at Jiangbei International Airport in southwest China's Chongqing, May 13, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Chan)
This year also marks the 60th anniversary of China sending its first medical team to Algeria. Over the last six decades, 3,522 Chinese medical workers have been sent to Algeria, treating over 27 million people and delivering over 2.07 million babies. "This is a monument to the China-Algeria friendship," Xi told Tebboune in their meeting.
The first medical team, dispatched by Beijing to help other countries, was sent to Algeria. After its independence, Algeria faced problems such as the withdrawal of foreign doctors and a shortage of medical supplies. In April 1963, at the request of the Algerian side, a Chinese medical team arrived in Saida, Algeria, and their service is ongoing.
Saida is a small town in northern Africa adjacent to the Sahara Desert. It has a dry, hot climate, with occasional sandstorms, and is known as the "gate to the desert."
When the Chinese team arrived, there was only one local doctor and one nurse, and the ward did not even have an electrocardiogram machine.
Under such difficult conditions, Chinese medical team members did their best to save the dying and heal the wounded. Nowadays, local people greet Chinese doctors and offer them shopping discounts as a gesture of gratitude and recognition.
China will work more closely with Algeria on healthcare, continue to provide government scholarships to Algeria, and promote friendly cooperation in media, tourism, youth, sports and think tanks to cement public support for bilateral ties, President Xi said.
For Debeche, also a professor of political sciences and international relations at the University of Algiers, the friendly and fruitful relations between Beijing and Algiers "would serve as a model not only for African countries but also for the Arab world as a whole."