A Chinese theatre group has been touring Somalia giving performances to audiences of up to a thousand people, in what the Hsinhua Chinese news agency has described as `a friendly visit'.
A Chinese theatre group has been touring Somalia giving performances to audiences of up to a thousand people, in what the Hsinhua Chinese news agency has described as `a friendly visit'. The tour comes meanwhile, as relations between Somalia and the Soviet Union are under strain, following a dispute about Soviet military supplies during the Ogaden Desert war against Ethiopia.
SYNOPSIS: Mogadishu, the Somalia capital, is the country's major cargo port, and links with the Soviet Union are evident in the number of Soviet ships there. But the war in Ethiopia's Ogaden Desert has led to disagreement between Somalia and Moscow - for the Soviet regime also supplies the Ethiopian Government with its military equipment. Reports from Somalia say that there have been recent delays in spare parts for Soviet-supplied Somali tanks.
Ethiopia used to get its military supplies from the United States, but the left-wing military regime there has now switched to the Soviet Union.
China, one of Ethiopia's major trading partners, has in recent years been lagging behind the Soviet Union in overall trade figures. From the latest statistics reported, for example, Somali imports from China dropped by more than fifty per cent in value from the previous year, while in the same period goods bought from the Soviet Union almost doubled.
Cultural ties are more difficult to assess in terms of hard figures, but china has traditionally used sports and the art to promote relations with other countries - and the Chekiang Song and Dance Ensemble was enthusiastically received during its tour of Somalia.
Among the senior Somali government officials and ministers watching the Chinese theatre group's premiere in Mogadishu was the country's naval commander. Somalia is considered by major world powers as a strategically important base to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. The Soviet Union already has a major base there, in the port of Berbera.