Analysis: LI JIE
TANZANIA-ZAMBIA Railway (TARAZA) connects China, Zambia and Tanzania.
Mao Zedong and Kenneth Kaunda, the founding fathers jointly forged the all-weather friendship between China and Zambia. As the good friend, good partner and good brother, China has always cherished a special sentiment towards Zambia and attached great importance to the development of China-Zambia relations.
This year marks the 54th anniversary of the independence of Zambia. In the past 54 years, the government and people of Zambia have worked vigorously to explore a development path in line with the country’s conditions, achieved steady progress in economic development, played an increasingly active role in regional and international arenas and made important contributions to peace, development and progress of Africa. China rejoices sincerely in Zambia’s success and wishes the Zambian people continued progress on national development.
This year also marks the 54th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Zambia.
President Edgar Lungu once said “Zambia and China are neighbours in heart”. The words expression is true reflection of the friendship between China and Zambia for more than 50 years.
A Chinese proverb also says “Nothing, not even mountains and oceans, can separate people with shared goals and vision”.
Despite geographical distance, China and Zambia enjoy a long-standing friendly relationship. On the second day of Zambia’s independence, First President Kenneth Kaunda announced Zambia’s establishment of diplomatic ties with China.
In 1971, as one of the sponsors, Zambia firmly supported the restoration of China’s lawful seat in the United Nations. When the proposal was adopted, the then Permanent Representative of Zambia to the United Nations and other representatives from African brother countries celebrated China’s victory with singing and dancing at the venue of the UN.
In 1970s, China, under difficult economic circumstances herself decided to assist Zambia in building the Tanzania-Zambia Railway. Since 1978, China has dispatched 20 aid medical teams to help Zambia improve health conditions.
Today, with the joint efforts of the governments and peoples of the two countries, China-Zambia’s all-weather friendship has taken deep root and flourished.
The exchange of high level visits between the two countries are increasingly frequent and the bilateral political mutual trust is ever deepening.
China and Zambia always support each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests and coordinate closely on regional and international affairs.
The traditional friendship between the two countries is consolidating, and the friendly cooperation in all sectors is expanding.
The bilateral economic and trade cooperation continues to deepen, with a total trade volume between China and Zambia reaching US$3.79 billion last year, with a year-on-year increase of 41.6 percent. The Zambian side enjoyed a huge surplus of US$3.08 billion.
From January to May 2018, the trade volume between the two countries was US$2.196 billion with a year-on-year increase of 59.26 percent.
There are over 1,000 Chinese enterprises investing in Zambia with a total volume of investment more than US$4 billion.
Zambia has become one of the top ten destinations among all African countries for Chinese investors.
We are proud that the China- Zambia friendship has withstood the test of time and the change of international situation and is advancing on the road of better and faster development.
China-Zambia relationship, based on sincere friendship, mutual respect and mutual benefit, stands in line with the common interests of both countries and peoples.
Currently, Chinese companies have undertaken a number of important infrastructure construction projects in Zambia, such as Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Ndola International Airport, Lower Kafue Gorge Hydro Power Plant, signal coverage in remote areas and milling plant projects.
Since the beginning of this year, President Lungu has honoured series of commencement ceremony such as the project of Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages, the SInoma Building Material Industrial Park, the trial production ceremony of the South Eastern Ore Body of the China Nonferrous (CNMC) Chambishi Copper Mine and the construction of the Kafulafuta Water Supply System.
These pragmatic cooperation achievements received broad support from the governments and peoples of both countries and brought tangible benefits to the Zambian people.
In September this year, President Lungu headed a high level Zambian delegation to China to attend the FOCAC Beijing Summit.
President Mr Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China held a bilateral meeting with Mr Lungu. Both heads of state witnessed the signing of a series of important cooperation agreements and documents including the MoU on cooperation within the Framework of the “Belt and Road Initiative”. This is Mr Lungu’s second visit to China after 2015, and the third bilateral meeting between the two heads of state, which has successfully elevated the bilateral relations to a new height.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s Reform and Opening up. In the past 40 years, China’s GDP has registered a annual growth of 9.5 percent, foreign trade has grown at an average annual rate of 14.5 percent, per capita disposable income has increased more than 100 times, and more than 700 million people have been successfully lifted out of poverty.
China’s experience in the Reform and Opening up shows that a booming economy requires sustained investment and efforts to accelerate infrastructure construction. In recent years, China has increased its investment and financing to African countries in support of accelerating Africa’s process of infrastructure development, industrialisation and agricultural modernisation, so as to vigorously encourage African countries to achieve independent and sustainable development, and facilitate African countries including Zambia to acquire capacity for self-sustained economic development.
At the same time, China has always directed Chinese companies and financial institutions to conduct investment in a more responsible manner.
On the issue of China-related debts, China always proceeds from the overall situation of the friendship between our two countries, tries to find a solution acceptable to both sides through friendly consultations, conducts strict scientific feasibility study and marketing study before a project is initiated.
The debt issue is a problem arising from the process of development and the fundamental solution depends on development itself.
Like the Zambians, the Chinese are also very concerned about the performance and efficiency of investment.
The China-Zambia relationship has stood at a new historical starting point. Looking forward to the future, China will continue to follow the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and the principle of pursuing the greater good and shared interests to work together with Zambia to build a closer community with a shared future, and jointly open a new chapter for the bilateral relations.
The author is Chinese Ambassador to Zambia.
Analysis: LI JIE