KK defends China’s Africa agenda

Zambia’s former president Kenneth Kaunda affirms China’s contribution to the development of Africa in defense of the increasing friendship and cooperation of the two sides.

Kaunda, one of the renowned African Independence Movement leaders, gave an affirmative appraisal of the African-Sino ties in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.

Zambia and China are bracing for the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries on Oct. 29.

He slammed the allegations that China is grabbing resources in Africa, saying the colonialists ” themselves have been here for hundred of years grabbing this economic benefit.”

“That is a lot of rubbish. Because in fact the people who are accusing China of coming here to grab wealth, they themselves have been here for hundred of years grabbing this economic benefit,” he told Xinhua.

“China helped us to struggle for our independence. China helped many other countries in Africa to get their independence. Now they are working with us to help us develop our economies. That’s what China doing, helping us, as friends, genuine friends,” Kaunda said.

Citing TAZARA, the railway links Tanzania and Zambia, which was built by Chinese in the 1970s, Kaunda said the project was part of the contribution by China to the development of Africa and the model of the friendship between Africa and China.

“The history of TAZARA is that former President Nyerere of Tanzania and I, myself went to the west and told them we need this railway between Tanzania and Zambia because the railways out therein the southern part (of Africa) are being controlled by the racists in Rhodesia, racists in South Africa, racists in Namibia, racists in Angola, in Mozambique, so we need this railway to be built now between Dar-es-Salaam and Zambia,” he said.

“The west rejected that proposal. They said that the problem in South Africa will soon go, and the problem in Rhodesia will soon go. Don’t worry about those problems, don’t think of this,” Kaunda added.

“President Nyerere and I then went to see Chairman Mao, and the prime minister (Zhou Enlai). We talked and put it to them, and they readily agreed, ‘we’ll go together to build that railway,’ this came. They came as brothers and sisters, as friends, as comrades with common struggle, they built that with our help,” he said.

“So you can see, the friendship is genuine. When others thought it was not necessary, China thought it in what Kenneth Kaunda and Julius Nyerere were talking about that railway. We built it. What more friendship do you want to see more than that?” he asked.

Kaunda, 85, still remembers clearly that he met Chairman Mao in Beijing several times.

“Our relations between the People’s Republic of China and Zambia, go back to the first meeting between I and Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou Enlai. My mind can never come out of that place, because the two leaders received me on behalf of not only Zambia, but Africa as a whole. So, that meeting was memorable, and it continues to be. They are in my mind for all time until I die,” Kaunda said.

Kaunda hailed the fast development of friendly relations between Zambia and China, saying, “The friendship between China and Zambia, from the time I was given the opportunity to meet that great man, Chairman Mao and his colleagues, have developed very fast indeed. Zambia has no doubt benefited from that friendship, because China has sent quite a few specialists in different fields of economic development, came to assist us here, especially during the time when I was in office.”

“So, we know, we are benefited in field of culture, in field of mining, in field of industry, so that friendship for Zambia has been very beneficial. So, we are grateful for that, ” he said.

Kaunda, the first to use the term “all weather friends” to define the relations between African nations and China, explained that in the many difficult situations, Africa and China have come together, work together and develop together. That is why he created this term, said the former Zambian leader.

“So it comes from the depth of the feelings between China and African leaderships. This is the friendship that is very firm, too firm that you can’t explain it in other way except to say the two sides are genuine and all weather friends,” Kaunda said.

Commenting on the new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa, featuring in political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation, and culture exchange, Kaunda said it is a “very wonderful” development.

“I have no doubt at all that the friendship between China and Zambia will continue to grow from strength to strength. Although leadership changes, the friendship between Zambia and China is still very strong. Someone once tried to frustrate this friendship but it has stayed strong, and it has remained strong. It’s going to continue to be strong. It’s a friendship based on principles, valuable principles. So we are confident, that even long after I’ve gone, the friendship will be there,” Kaunda said, predicting an even brighter future of the relations between Zambia and China.

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