Senegalese President Macky Sall congratulated China for the success of its Chang’e-4 mission to deploy a lunar rover on the far side of the Moon, when he met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Jan. 6. Senegal, which is currently co-chair of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). This was the last stop in Wang’s four-nation tour of Africa that began in Ethiopia.
According to Xinhua, Sall said that “this major technological breakthrough has shown that China is taking the lead in the field of technological innovation…. China’s African friends are proud of its achievement.” He added that they hope to strengthen their cooperation with China in scientific and technological innovation.
African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat had said much the same thing, when he met with Wang on Jan. 4 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the AU has its headquarters. Expressing his congratulations on the successful landing of the Chang’e-4 lunar probe, Faki told Wang, “for humans, the Moon is out of reach, but with its super-scientific capabilities, China has successfully achieved this landing event, making history.” He, too, said that Africa, as a friend of China, is happy about its success, and hopes that African countries will strengthen cooperation with China in science and technological innovation.
Xinhua reported that Wang, in responding to Sall, said that China’s achievements are also achievements of developing countries, “stressing that developing countries have the right and ability to achieve rapid development in the field of scientific and technological innovation.”
Between those two stops, Wang visited The Gambia and Burkina Faso, two countries which had only established relations with China in 2016 and 2018. Cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative was on the agenda in each stop, as was China’s commitment to helping bring peace to Africa, which is fighting off terrorism. Wang told AU Commission Chair Faki, and Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and Foreign Minister Alpha Barry, in particular, that China will “soon” provide its $45 million commitment for the anti-terror force of the Group of 5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger), plus additional support for equipment as well as equipment for the fight against terrorism. One Burkina Faso newspaper called Wang’s pledge “a breath of fresh air,” because while the G5 Sahel counter-force is backed by the United Nations Security Council, international funding has been way below commitments.
Traditionally China’s foreign minister makes the first overseas trip of each year to Africa.
“The successful landing of China’s Chang’e 4 probe on the far side of the Moon on Jan. 3 marks a significant step forward in the exploration of outer space and paves the way for future space missions…. Both the country and its people have a good reason to take pride in this pioneering achievement, which contributes to the efforts to learn our homes planet’s satellite, the Solar System and the universe beyond…. Following the Chang’e 4 mission, China is expected to quicken its steps in exploring outer space.
“In recent years, each significant achievement made by China’s space industry has drawn global attention. Although its space industry is comparatively young, China’s commitment to the exploration of outer space has always been crystal clear and consistent. It is committed to the principle of using outer space for peaceful purposes, and opposes the militarization of or an arms race in outer space. Its door is open to international cooperation in space exploration….
China’s commitment to international cooperation demonstrates its unwavering belief that outer space is a common home for all humanity and that its space
dream is part of the dream of all humankind.”