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China eyes Algerian oil and gas as it receives Tebboune in Beijing

Algeria's president will want to use next week's visit to China to make a pitch for his country to join the five-nation alliance of emerging economies seen as an alternative to Western hegemony.
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 05: Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd-L) meets with Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia (4nd-R) at the Great Hall of the People at The Great Hall Of The People on September 5, 2018 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Pool/Getty Images)

The cordial relations between Algeria and China date back to the North African country’s fight for independence in the 1960s, during which Beijing provided strong support for Algeria's anti-colonial struggle against France. 

In 1962, as Algeria became independent from its European coloniser, foreign doctors left the country in droves, leading Algiers to ask its allies for assistance. The next year China dispatched its first medical assistance team to the North African country. Many Algerians remember being born to Chinese midwives in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s — locals call those Algerians “Sinovas” (Chinese), as they were born with a “Chinese mother.” In 2020 some 60 years later, Algeria’s first personal protective equipment used to fight the COVID-19 pandemic arrived from China.

Adel Hamaizia is an associate fellow at The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House. Before the pandemic, there were around 250,000 registered Chinese workers on the continent of Africa. Around 90,000 of them, more than a third, were in Algeria, he told Al-Monitor. Although contracts dried up during the pandemic, Algeria has since been making more revenue from its oil and gas sector following the sanctioning of Russia by the West for its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune will visit Beijing on Monday to meet his counterpart Xi Jinping to further enhance their longstanding bilateral relationship and explore opportunities for deeper cooperation. The trip comes hot on the heels of an official visit to Russia by the Algerian president. 

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