China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi concluded his annual trip to Africa on Tuesday with a visit to the tiny island nation of Sao Tome and Principe, off the continent's western gulf.
Beijing's interest in the archipelago, with its population of roughly 200,000, may seem unusual. But experts CNBC spoke to have suggested that Sao Tome and Principe could serve as a strategic transport hub for the superpower.
Agnese Ortolani, Western and Central Africa analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNBC via email that: "China has pledged to provide the archipelago with a $146 million for the modernization of its International Airport and the construction of a deep-sea container port, which could serve as a logistics hub for Chinese exports to Central Africa."
This is not the first time a foreign power has expressed an interested in Sao Tome and Principe as a port. In 2002, the BBC reported that the U.S. was considering building a naval base on the island to safeguard oil interests in the region — though little has been heard of this plan since.
Wang pledged China's support of Sao Tome and Principe's development while in talks with the island's Foreign Minister Urbino Botelho on Monday, Xinhua reported.