BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka
MINISTER of Defence Davies Chama says Government admires the transformation and progress made by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of
Mr Chama says the PLA was essentially an infantry army with limited mobility, logistics, ordinance and communications, but it has since trans-formed into a modern military force of the world, primarily by developing the local defence industry.
Speaking during the commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the PLA in Lusaka on Wednesday evening, Mr Chama said China’s army has become more integrated with its civilian counterparts.
Mr Chama said the PLA has started producing more civilian goods in addition to modernising its weaponry and technology, making it a force to reckon with and among the best in the world.
He said the Zambian government also hopes to continue exploring new avenues of cooperation with China for the mutual benefit of the two coun-tries.
Mr Chama acknowledged the long-standing cordial relations between Zambia and China, which date back to the pre-independence era under Chairman Mao Zedong.
“Since Zambia’s independence in 1964, our two countries have continued to collaborate in various fields,” he said.
Mr Chama said China has continued to contribute to Zambia’s development in social and economic sectors such as health, education, infrastruc-ture, defence and security.
“We have witnessed the Chinese government sending military medical teams since 1979 to assist in our hospitals,” he said.
Earlier, Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Yang Youming said his country has consistently supported and participated in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations.
“Among the permanent member states of the UN Security Council, China has contributed the largest number of troops to UN peacekeeping mis-sions. Over 31,000 military personnel so far have taken part in 24 UN peacekeeping operations since 1992 and over 20 Chinese officers have sacri-ficed their precious lives in the operations,” he said.
Mr Yang said despite its drive for modernisation, China still pursues a policy which is defensive in nature but which takes the road of peaceful development.
He said its aim is to build a harmonious world, which enjoys lasting peace and common prosperity.
“The PLA started to cut the size of its armed forces from 2.3 million to two million in 2015 and made another solid step for the army’s transfor-mation from quantitative to qualitative development,” Mr Yang said.