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Gambia, China hold bilateral meeting on side-lines of Lanting Forum 

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By Talibeh Hydra

Shortly after delivering a speech at the opening ceremony of the Lanting Forum in Shanghai on Friday, Gambian Foreign Minister Dr Mamadou Tangara has held a bilateral meeting with his counterpart, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang of China. 

The two diplomats had both earlier addressed the forum before attending a brief bilateral engagement.

Speaking to The Standard and QTV after the meeting, the Honourable Tangara explained what was discussed about China and The Gambia behind closed doors.

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“I had the privilege of meeting the State Councillor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, H.E Qin Gang. During our discussion, of course, we talked about our bilateral cooperation. We also talked about China as a strong pillar of multilateralism. We discussed the three initiatives enunciated by President Xi Jinping, namely; the Global Security Initiative, the Global Civilisation Initiative, and the Global Development Initiative. All these initiatives are in line with our conception of the world. When we talk about the Global Security Initiative, we all know that there is no development without peace and stability. That is a sine qua nonfor any development. We all know what is happening in our region in the Sahel, terrorism, extremism and the fight that we are launching against it,” he said. 

Foreign Minister Tangara said President Xi’s initiative on development is the solution as the world is intertwined and challenges don’t discriminate. 

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“The Global Development Initiative is in line with SDGs. We live in a global village; what affects one directly affects all of us and I think the Covid-19 pandemic is a big lesson to all of us. Here is a small virus that does not recognise borders, does not need visa or passport to travel and when some were clamouring vaccine nationalism, China came to the aid of the world, especially to Africa. Some of our partners clearly said that they did not want to help because they wanted to take care of their population. But being selfish doesn’t stop the virus from migrating. So it is important that when we are faced with global challenges, we pull all our resources together to fight it. That is what China has done,” he said. 

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Honourable Tangara added that the Chinese leader’s civilisation initiative is representative of The Gambia, a multi-cultural country with at least nine ethnic groups peacefully coexisting, united in the desire for common development. 

“The Global Civilisation Initiative is also in line with our philosophy and our belief in a multi-cultural world. Like The Gambia in Africa, where there are diversity and variety of cultures. We are blessed that we have not experienced any major conflict due to tribalism or religious difference,” he said.

“The GCI is an initiative that puts emphasis on things that will bind us together; for the human being to be the beginning, the centre and the end of development, not emphasised only on economic growth and forgetting the cultural aspect. When you put emphasis on accumulating material, you’d reach a stage where there would be some kind of emptiness. We are grateful that in The Gambia, despite all the challenges, because of the faith people have and the very strong solidarity and cultural norms, we are able to face the challenges with smiles and that is why we are called The Smiling Coast because of the faith we have for a better future and the fact that we are building closely together. Unity in diversity is very important.”

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The Gambia and China resumed diplomatic ties in 2016 after nearly two decades. The two countries have since strengthened relations with China being a standout supporter of The Gambia’s development efforts. 

The Honourable Minister was accompanied to the bilateral meeting by H.E Masanneh N Kinteh, The Gambia’s Ambassador to Beijing and Mr. Yankuba Dibba, the Executive Director of OIC Secretariat Gambia. 

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