China appoints new special envoy for conflict-riven Horn of Africa

China has appointed senior diplomat Xue Bing as its new special envoy for the Horn of Africa, a region that is currently troubled by conflict including in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.

Xue has previously worked as China’s Ambassador to Papua New Guinea and has experience working in Africa, America and Oceania, China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

His task will be to work to promote China’s “peaceful development” plan for the region which aims to help countries in the region “achieve long-term stability, development and prosperity,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily briefing in Beijing.

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi announced in January during a trip to East Africa that such an appointment had been planned.

China’s interests in the Horn include its naval base in Djibouti, overlooking a key global shipping route. Beijing has granted large loans to landlocked Ethiopia, which relies on Djibouti’s port for trade.

The region is also threatened by instability in South Sudan, where China has substantial oil investments, and spillover from Somalia that has brought deadly attacks in neighboring Kenya.

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