By LI YUANCHAO (Vice-President of the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China)
THIS year marks the 50th anniversary of the independence of Zambia and also the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and Zambia.
At the invitation of His Honour Vice-President Guy Scott, I am paying an official visit to Zambia to celebrate the two golden jubilees with the Zambian people, convey the best wishes of the Chinese people, and work for further development of the friendly cooperation between our two countries.
The relations between China and Zambia can be called a paradigm for the tradition of friendship between China and Africa.
This traditional friendship is created personally by the older generation of leaders of the two countries: Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai and President Kenneth Kaunda.
During the hard times of the Zambian peopleâ€™s struggle for national independence, the Chinese people gave firm support to their Zambian brothers and sisters. On the second day of her independence, Zambia declared establishment of diplomatic ties with China and thus becoming the first country in southern Africa to establish such relations with the new China.
In the 50 years since, our two countries have always respected and supported each other, maintained close communication on international affairs and safeguarded the common interests of the two countries and the two peoples.
In the 1960s and 1970s, when her own economic conditions were still very bad, China decided to build the TAZARA for Zambia. Together with their brave and hard-working Zambian and Tanzanian brothers and sisters, tens of thousands of Chinese men and women overcame difficulties on the vast African land and toiled for six years to complete the TAZARA, which reaches a length of 1,860km. Sixty-five Chinese engineers and technicians sacrificed their lives for this project.
The TAZARA is therefore called â€œthe road of friendshipâ€ and â€œthe Uhuru Railwayâ€. It is a historic monument that symbolizes the friendship between China and Zambia and the friendship between China and Africa.
On October 25th of 1971, with the joint efforts of the large number of developing countries including Zambia, the 26th UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to restore the lawful seat of the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China in the United Nations. Zambian and other African representatives rejoiced in the hall of the UN General Assembly singing and dancing. This moving picture is fixed in the minds of generations of the Chinese people.
Chairman Mao Zedong once said emotionally that it was African brothers that carried China back to the United Nations.
With 50 years of development, China and Zambia have achieved fruitful results in their mutually beneficial cooperation.
China is the second largest destination of export for Zambia. Their trade volume reached US$3.8 billion in 2013 of which a US$ 3.1 billion worth of export came from Zambia to China.
China is also Zambiaâ€™s third largest source of investment. As of 2013, the accumulated amount of investment from China to Zambia reached $ 2.6 billion.
China-Zambia Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone managed by China Nonferrous Metal Mining Group is the first of its kind set up in Africa by China.
In the 7 years since its establishment, already 29 enterprises have made their establishments in this park, creating more than 7,000 job opportunities for Zambia. This company best explains the all-weather friendship between China and Zambia.
With 50 years of development, the cultural exchanges between China and Zambia have grown in an active manner.
There are 1,020 Zambian students studying in China now and the classes teaching Chinese language and culture established by the Confucius Institute with the University of Zambia have reached all 10 provinces in Zambia.
The Chinese Spring Festival Fair is now a big event in the capital city of Lusaka. Chinese TV programmes and movies like American Dreams in China have been on show in Zambia and are quite popular among the audience.
China has also built stadiums in Ndola and Lusaka and has dispatched table tennis coaches for Zambiaâ€™s national team.
Friendship between the two peoples has deepened in those 50 years. More and more Chinese people are coming to Zambia to start businesses.
Here is a story. A Chinese couple started from scratch in this country and have built a farm with assets worth of millions of dollars. Unfortunately the husband died in an accident on duty.
The wife carried on the unfinished lifework of the husband and continued running their business in this country. Their story became a moving melody in Zambia.
There is another story about a Chinese medical team working with Thomson Hospital in Luanshya on the Copperbelt.
The Chinese side once considered withdrawing the team because of the harsh condition there. However, the team has stayed on to date because of the strong insistence of the locals.
Now, China has dispatched 460 medical staff to Zambia in 17 batches. Chinese doctors and nurses have brought health and smiles to so many people in Zambia through their dedication and medical expertise.
Admittedly there are new situations and new problems in the rapid development of our cooperation. These are issues in the process which will be resolved through friendly consultation and deepening of our relations.
In April 2013, H.E. Michael Sata, President of the Republic of Zambia, paid a state visit to China and reached a series of important consensus with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
They defined the orientation of development of the relations between our two countries under the new circumstances.
China will hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and win-win and follow the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith proposed by President Xi Jinping, implement the â€œ461â€ framework (4 stands for four principles, 6 stands for six areas of cooperation and 1 stands for one platform – Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) of China-Africa cooperation, proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, forge a stronger community of shared destiny and be close friends, brothers and partners with Zambia.
We hope that the two sides will continue deepening political mutual trust. The Chinese people warmly welcome leaders and personages from all walks of life in Zambia to China for the celebration the 50th anniversary of the two countriesâ€™ diplomatic relations and carry on the traditional friendship.
We hope that the two sides will expand mutually beneficial cooperation. We will step up collaboration in areas like agriculture, mining, infrastructure building, and make the Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone a success.
China will continue doing its best to offer assistance to Zambia and urge Chinese companies to earnestly shoulder their corporate social responsibilities.
We expect that by the year 2020, our annual bilateral trade volume will exceed $7 billion and Chinaâ€™s accumulated direct investment in Zambia will reach $6 billion.
We hope that the two sides will enhance people-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges.
China will go on to dispatch medical teams to Zambia, gradually increase scholarships and encourage Chinese tourists to visit Zambia. We will also strengthen cooperation in development of human resources.
The Chinese Government plans to train a total of 3600 professionals of different kinds for Zambia.
I heard that the Zambian people have written a song for a Chinese entrepreneur and his team. The lyrics are mainly about the trees planted in the soil and the Chinese peopleâ€™s friendship growing in the heart of the people of Zambia. We hope that with the joint efforts of the two peoples, the evergreen tree of friendship and cooperation will bear more fruits.