Feature: Cameroonians anticipate deeper friendship with China amid 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties

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by Arison Tamfu

YAOUNDE, March 28 (Xinhua) — Fifteen years ago, Justin Atanga made a decision that changed his life. He sold off a piece of land he inherited from his parents, and began travelling to the Chinese cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen to import goods.

“When I look at what I have achieved today, I am proud of the decision I made.” Atanga told Xinhua at Mokolo market in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde, where he has established one of the biggest shops in town replete with made-in-China merchandise.

Atanga, one of many Cameroonians who’ve benefited from a close relationship with China, was particularly keen to stress the need to foster China-Cameroon relations when both nations celebrated 50 years of diplomatic ties on Friday.

“This relationship has to grow deeper and deeper,” he said looking proudly at his goods.

Like Atanga, Rene Kaam has experienced first-hand the fruits of China-Cameroon relations. Some 13 years ago, he went to China to study forestry and engineering, a decision that propelled him internationally. He even got married to a Chinese.

“Our marriage is an indication that Cameroon and China are also able to get along socially,” said Kaam who is today Director of International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) for Central Africa. INBAR is a multilateral development organisation headquartered in China.

“One thing I learned is that Chinese are good at planning,” he said, “it is time for us to redefine our priorities. We need to breakdown our vision into action, identify what are the sectors where we are lagging behind and how can we work with China to build our capacities.”

Cameroon attaches great importance to its relations with China which have stood the test of time and a changing international environment, said Jean Gilles Okono Okono, director of Asian affairs at Cameroon’s Ministry of External Relations.

“Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 50 years ago, this country (China) is henceforth a strategic partner. Our relations are based on mutual respect and benefit,” Okono said.

Skill transfer should constitue an important part of the bilateral cooperation, said Okono.

“They (Chinese) are already doing that, like at the Mbalmayo hospital where relay teams of Chinese medical missions help Cameroonian medical personnel to learn from them”, he added. Enditem

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