China backs Somalia in row with Ethiopia about port deal

Ethiopia signed sea access deal with Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland, triggering rejection from Mogadishu

Riyaz ul Khaliq  | 11.01.2024 - Update : 11.01.2024
China backs Somalia in row with Ethiopia about port deal


China extended support on Thursday to the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Somalia which is entangled in a dispute with Ethiopia concerning a port deal with Somaliland. 

“China stands for upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and supports countries in safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Mao Ning, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry.

“Somaliland is part of Somalia,” said Mao.

Ethiopia signed a sea access deal with Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland without the approval of Somalia’s central government.

Somalia rejected Ethiopia's Red Sea port deal with Somaliland, calling it “illegitimate,” a threat to good neighborliness and a violation of its sovereignty. It also recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia after the deal was announced.

Ethiopia defended its decision to sign the deal and said the agreement with Somaliland “will affect no party or country.”

The deal gives Ethiopia the opportunity to obtain a permanent and reliable naval base and commercial maritime service in the Gulf of Aden.

“China supports the federal government of Somalia in safeguarding national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Mao, according to the ministry. “We hope that regional countries will handle regional affairs well through diplomatic dialogue and achieve common development by having friendly cooperation.”

Ethiopia lost its Red Sea ports in the early 1990s after the Eritrean War of Independence, which lasted from 1961 to 1991.

In 1991, Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia, leading to two separate nations.​​​​​​​

The separation resulted in Ethiopia losing direct access to the Red Sea and key ports.

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