Video interview with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki

In this edition of the CGTN series Leaders Talk, Zou Yun interviews Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki during the latter’s recent state visit to China.

Speaking on the day after his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the counties’ diplomatic relations, which were established on the day that Eritrea proclaimed its independence, President Afwerki situated the bilateral relationship within what he described as the broader context of the historic mission of humanity. China had immediately stood on the side of the right of the Eritrean people to independence. Independence is the foundation of any international relationship. China, he said, stands on the side of the people of the world. And Eritrea, in solidarity with China, continues to uphold a mission for humanity.

The interview discussed the recent fallout from the conflict in Sudan, where Eritrea had assisted Chinese people who were being evacuated from the war-struck country, while China had also helped Eritrean people to leave Sudan. The Eritrean president described this as “our commitment to our common cause”. In  words that should shame British government ministers, he described how Eritrea had opened its borders to refugees – “No visa. No permissions. Everything is open for saving human lives.”

There was a need, Afwerki said, to create a new world order. No people can survive without solidarity and what China has achieved, both domestically and internationally, is very attractive to people around the world.

Saying that the future is bright, the Eritrean leader was of the view that hegemonism “is no longer the rule of the game” because of what China has achieved. 

Turning to the sanctions imposed on his country by the United States and some other countries, Afwerki described them as the product of a sick mind. Such sanctions, he said, are imposed on all those who defend their independence and sovereignty. Sanctions have inflicted tremendous damage on Eritrea and its development, but they have also taught a powerful lesson with regard to the struggle that needs to be waged to build a nation and have made the Eritrean people more determined to continue that struggle.

Zou Yun referred to President Afwerki as having a “special bond” with China. Over 50 years ago, at the age of 20, he came to China and spent two years in military and political training at the dawn of the Eritrean revolution. Questioned on this period, he said that he learned so much in a short time and what he had learned had changed lives. The main lesson, he said, was the commitment of the country’s leaders and the Communist Party to the people. This has provided a model of success for everyone. China had been considered a backward country by others, but now it is reshaping the global order.

The full interview with President Isaias Afwerki is embedded below.

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