China’s new foreign minister Qin Gang heads to Africa, Egypt for first trip

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China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang is starting his term with a weeklong trip to five African countries, the Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.

Qin, who until recently was ambassador to the United States, will visit Ethiopia, Gabon, Angola, Benin, and Egypt from January 9-16, spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily media briefing.

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In Egypt, Qin will also meet the secretary-general of the Arab League.

The new foreign minister is following in the footsteps of his predecessors, who have for more than three decades started each year with a trip to Africa.

“It shows that China attaches great importance to the traditional friendship with Africa and the development of China-Africa relations,” Wang said.

Qin, 56, was appointed foreign minister on December 30. He succeeded Wang Yi, 69, who has replaced Yang Jiechi as the government’s top foreign policy official.

Wang’s new position has not been announced, but a recent article by him on the Foreign Ministry website described him as director of the ruling Communist Party’s foreign affairs office, the post that Yang held.

Read more: China’s interests have moved from Africa to other regions ripe for trade

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