Biya to visit China ahead of presidential election

President Paul Biya receiving Chinese ambassador to Cameroon in Yaoundé on March 13, 2018. NDI EUGENE NDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

President Paul Biya will pay a state visit to China ahead of this year’s presidential election in Cameroon, official said.

The visit was at the centre of discussions when President Biya hosted Chinese Ambassador to Cameroon Wei Wenhua at the State House in Yaoundé on Tuesday.

Mr Wei told reporters that he was at the State House to hand an invitation letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping to his Cameroonian counterpart.

“The President of China, Mr Xi Jinping, has invited the Mr Paul Biya, the president of Cameroon to pay an official visit to China in the third quarter of March 2018,” the head of China’s diplomacy in Cameroon disclosed, without giving the exact date and duration of the visit.

Seven months

Coming after the first session of China’s 13th National People’s Congress, Mr Wei said President Biya would be the first foreign head of state to visit to China after a reform of the government, which, according to him, was a sign of the fruitful cooperation between Beijing and Yaoundé.

The visit to China by the 85-year-old Biya, who has ruled Cameroon since 1982, will come barely seven months to the presidential election in the Central African state.

President Biya paid a similar visit to China ahead of the 2011 presidential election.

Though Beijing and Yaoundé have enjoyed diplomatic relations since 1971, the Sino-Cameroon relationship has grown rapidly in the last two decades.

China plays a key role in Cameroon's economic development, particularly in infrastructure projects with the construction of the Kribi Deep Seaport and hydroelectric dams like the Memve'ele and Mekin.

The Chinese government has also provided financial assistance to other areas such as agriculture, health and education.

Five occasions

The Asian giant has constructed and equipped the Yaoundé Hospital of Gynaecology, Obstetrics, and Paediatrics, commonly called the “Chinese Hospital”.
According to reliable statistics, China has delivered $2.4 billion in development finance to Cameroon since the first Forum on China Africa Cooperation in 2000.

In 2015, China was Cameroon’s first trade partner, while the latter was the second largest beneficiary of Chinese aid in Africa.

The March 2018 state visit will be President Biya’s sixth since ascending to the helm in 1982. The Cameroon president previously toured China on five occasions; March 1987, October 1993, September 2003, November 2006 and July 2011.

It is also believed that President Biya’s Cameroon People Democratic Movement (CPDM) party campaign materials were supplied by China and with at least four elections this year, the latest visit could be linked to the party’s preparations for the elections.

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