China continues its diplomatic offensive to open up waters to its fishing companies, with a leading Chinese fisheries official recently leading a delegation of Chinese fishing companies to the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar with promises of “increased cooperation” in fisheries.
Zhang Xianliang, who runs the fisheries management bureau at the Chinese agricultural ministry, met Zanzibar ministers of agriculture, fisheries, and natural resources. He was accompanied in meetings by China’s consul general in Zanzibar, Xie Xiao Wu, who briefed Zhang on the “current state of fisheries and opportunities for Chinese cooperation with Zanzibar,” according to the Chinese foreign ministry. In 2017, China’s commerce ministry funded a fisheries training program for Zanzibar officials, delivered by the Fujian Institute of Oceanography.
Chinese fisheries companies enjoy significant political support. In July 2017, Zhang led a delegation of fishing companies to Ghana, promising 2,500 jobs and “lots of taxes” for locals. A semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, Zanzibar is a strategic location for China, which has been keen to establish ports in the strategically important Indian Ocean.