NAIROBI – China’s first special envoy to the Horn of Africa has offered to mediate in disputes in the region as Beijing seeks to strengthen its influence and protect its investments from conflict and other troubles.
Xue Bing told a China-led peace conference in Ethiopia’s capital that he is “ready to provide mediation efforts for the peaceful settlement of disputes based on the will of countries in this region.”
The strategic Horn of Africa region is anchored by Ethiopia, recently shaken by war that spread from its northern Tigray region.
Ethiopia’s government didn’t immediately respond when asked if it would take up China’s offer.
The Horn, which includes Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan, has long been wracked by civil wars, Islamist insurgencies and military coups.
In October, Sudan’s military seized power, deepening instability and undermining Chinese investment interests, especially in the petroleum industry.
Meanwhile in Somalia, a resurgence of the jihadist fundamentalist group al-Shabab has led to fresh terrorist attacks in Kenya, prompting Nairobi to send troops into the neighbouring country, posing a further threat to regional security.