CHINA PLEDGES TO INCREASE MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO SEYCHELLES
President James Michel has met with the Chinese Minister for National Defence and State councillor, General Liang Guanglie and a high-level military delegation at State House this morning.
The meeting was also attended by the Seychelles Minister for Home Affairs, Environment, Transport and Energy, Joel Morgan, the Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam, the Chinese Ambassador to Seychelles, Shi Zhongjun, and the Secretary of State for President’s Office, Ambassador Barry Faure and the Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne.
The visit of the Chinese Minister for Defence follows the discussions held by President Michel with the Chinese Vice-President Xi Jiling in October in Beijing, which, among other cooperation issues, also concerned the threat of piracy in the Indian Ocean.
“We will build on our already excellent relations with increased cooperation in defence. We deeply appreciate the support of the Government and people of the People’s Republic of China in our time of need, when we are defending sovereignty in the fight against piracy. We are also very grateful to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the donation of the two Y-12 aircrafts this year and also for the support under the military cooperation agreement signed today,” said President Michel, who is also the Minister for Defence, and Commander-in-Chief of the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces.
The President said that the agreement would ensure that the Chinese military assistance through training, equipment and exchange visits, would strengthen the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces and increase its capacity to protect the country against pirate attacks.
“Together, we need to increase our surveillance capacity in the Indian Ocean, and as Seychelles has a strategic position between Asia and Africa, and we are the recognised centre for the coordinated efforts to combat piracy, and develop peace and stability in the region.”
Defence cooperation between Seychelles and China has steadily increased since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation in October 2004.
“China has desire to develop good relations on the principle of peace, equality, and peaceful co-existence, whether it be with a large country or a small country. China has built a harmonious society and we are working to build a harmonious international community,” said Major General Ci Guowei, Deputy Chief of Foreign Office of the Ministry of National Defence, on behalf of the Chinese military delegation following the meeting.
Since 2008, Chinese naval vessels have been patrolling the waters off the Coast of Somalia. The Chinese Navy’s Hospital Ship-Peace Ark Ship visited Seychelles in November 2010. A total of 139 people were treated onboard with 19 operations done. Two Chinese frigates also visited Seychelles for the first time in April 2011. The Government of China donated two Y-12 aircrafts in 2011 for surveillance of the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone against, for piracy as well as other illegal and unreported activities.