This year’s celebration of the 63rd anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ghana and China coincided with the visit of the 43rd Escort Task Group of the Chinese Army Navy at the Tema port in Accra, for a five-day friendly exchange as part of a mission to some selected countries.
July 5, this year, marks the 63rd anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ghana and China, an important milestone in the history of the two countries. On this day in 1960, Ghana and China laid the foundation for stable and long-lasting bilateral relations based on a shared vision of future prosperity. Just four days earlier, on July 1, 1960, Ghana had attained republic status, three years after gaining independence from Britain.
Ghana’s First President
The same year, Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, and China’s Chairman Mao Zedong both launched ambitious plans to transform their agrarian economies into modern, industrial ones, with the state playing a central driving role. However, while Ghana’s plan was truncated in 1966 with the overthrow of President Nkrumah, China, on the other hand, followed one of the most successful industrialisation projects in modern history, catapulting the country to an economic powerhouse in less than three decades.
The personal friendship between President Kwame Nkrumah and Chairman Mao Zedong laid the foundation for the relations between the two countries at the time. They were the thought leaders of their generation who stood shoulder to shoulder and became the mouthpiece of the oppressed.
On August 23, 1961, Ghana and China signed a friendship treaty which affirmed the close bilateral ties between the two countries and established the foundation for practical cooperation as well as the emergence of Afro-Asia solidarity.
Evolution of Ties
While their economic experiments diverged on separate paths, Ghana and China maintained strong diplomaticties. However, relations between the two were briefly interrupted in the wake of the 1966 coup but were restored three years later when a change of government took place.
In the international arena, the two countries have been champions of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
Inaugurated in 1961 in Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia, NAM sought to steer a neutral path which was nonaligned to the then superpowers, the United States and the former Soviet Union.
While Ghana was a founding member of NAM, China staunchly championed the cause of the movement from its observer status. Under the umbrella of NAM, China supported African countries in their struggle for independence andagainst Western domination.
A Founding Member
Further, as a founding member of, and a leading voice in, the Organisation of African Unity, Ghana played a pivotal role in China’s winning a seat at the United Nations Security Council, joining other African countries to vote in favour of China.
Ghana’s support was also pivotal in China’s subsequent acceptance of the World Trade Organisation. Over the past six decades, our relations have been tested but have become more robust and diverse, touching practically all conceivable spheres of development, especially under the leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufu Addo and Chinese President Xi Jinping, notably in trade and investment, agriculture, education, politics and economics, among others.
43rd Escort Task Group
The 43rd Escort Task Group of the Chinese Army Navy made a grand entrance at the port aboard three ships, including the huge Guided- Missile-Destroyer-Nanning-162, which was flying the flags of China and Ghana at its peak while the crew,adorned in striking white uniforms, stood along the deck in a salute posture.
While in Ghana, the group, led by Senior Captain Zhao Lang and Senior Captain Yang Yanhua, Commanders of the Escort Task Force, would hold exchanges with their Ghana counterparts, comprising high-level courses, joint exercises and donations.
The 43rd Chinese naval escort taskforce set sail for the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia from a military port in Zhanjiang City, southeast China’s Guangdong province, on January 10, 2023, for the rotation with the 42nd task force.
The 43rd Chinese Naval escort taskforce consists of guided-missile destroyer Nanning, guided-missile frigate Sanya and comprehensive supply ship Weishanhu, as well as two ship-borne helicopters and more than 700 troops. It is the first time for ship Nanning to perform an escort mission.
Detailed emergency plans
During the preparation period, the task force formulated detailed emergency plans and organised targeted training on the actual use of weapons, anti-terrorism and anti-piracy operations, replenishment-at-sea, etc.
As of now, the Chinese PLA Navy has sent 131 warships and more than 32,000 troops in 42 batches to the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia to carry out escort missions.
Present at the welcoming of the escort at a ceremony at the Tema Port last Tuesday were the Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr Kofi Amankwa-Manu; Vice Admiral Seth Amoama, Chief of Defence Staff and Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, Chief of the Naval Staff.