By Mu Dong, Meng Jing
Zambian President Rupiah Banda speaks highly of the efforts China has made in helping his country develop, describing relationship with China as most honorable.
The president made the remarks in an interview with Xinhua prior to his scheduled visit to China late February.
Banda said the visit will strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two countries which are based on mutual trust, transparency, South-South Cooperation and a win-win relationship.
He said that since Zambia and China established diplomatic relations 45 years ago, the two sides have been experiencing a cordial, warm and brotherly friendship through the whole period.
The president noted that China has been an all-weather friend to Zambia. During the current global crisis, while other investors were pulling out and laying off employees, the Chinese investors, instead, continued to invest in Zambia.
The China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining Cooperation even offered to run suspended Luanshya Copper Mine and reopened it, creating employment and assisting to secure the livelihood of local people in the mining area.
“As we all know, China is one of the biggest investors and source of financing. All the countries in the world are competing for Chinese investment. My delegation includes some Zambian business houses and therefore I expect that strategic partnerships and stronger ties will be developed between our peoples,” said Banda.
Recalling the long history of China-Zambia friendship, Banda said that decades ago, Zambia was in many difficulties until China came to aid the country and constructed the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Line (TAZARA), which was at the time deemed impossible by the rest of the world.
The railway helped Zambia get rid of difficulties to a path of independence and development, the president said.
“Every time we think of TAZARA, we think about the lives of 64 young Chinese sacrificed to build that railway line and to keep Zambia alive through the critical time.”
Meanwhile, Banda noted that the 1,700-km long oil pipeline that funnels fuel from Tanzania to Zambia, as well as roads, stadium, medical centers, textile plants, government buildings, which were constructed by Chinese workers from past to now, are considered the new milestones of China-Africa, China-Zambia friendship following TAZARA.
During the same period, Zambia has been benefitting from expert exchange projects and training programs provided by the Chinese government in the fields of health, agriculture and education, he said.
China as a major economy is now among those nations leading the world, the president said. “If the world is looking to China for economic chance, why shouldn’t Zambia do the same?”
Commenting on the voice from a few Western media that China and other emerging economies are grabbing Africa’s natural resources instead of helping develop African economies, Banda said it was just because of the enormous need on raw materials from such economies’ industrial development, many African countries could eliminate poverty via cooperation with them on the basis of mutual benefit.
No one can deny the contribution and help Chinese investors have done in Africa, he said.
“Issues of climate change, underdeveloped financial markets, developing agriculture potential, improving the quality and access to medical care and education continue to remain a great challenge for most African countries,” Banda said.
Zambia warmly welcomed the eight new measures announced by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the fourth ministerial conference of the China-Africa Cooperation forum last November, the president said, calling for more countries to come up to help Africa develop.