CHINESE Ambassador Li Jie says domestic and foreign concerns about the possibility of China’s cooperation increasing the debt burden of Zambia are redundant.
Addressing the press yesterday, Ambassador Li said allegations that China would takeover Zesco, ZNBC and the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport were totally wrong.
He said it was true that China had a role in the three projects.
“Now, there are some concerns and voices, domestically and abroad that strengthening practical cooperation with China will increase the debt burden of Zambia. This worry is redundant,” Ambassdor Li said. “China always insists to put the interests of the Chinese and Zambian people in the first place and boost cooperation for peoples’ well-being and benefits people with cooperative achievements. China has always adhered to the principle of mutual respect and win-win cooperation, and stayed committed to the vision of consultation, cooperation and benefit for all…We will fully honour the commitment we have made to our Zambian and African brothers. As always, we will deliver financial support to projects that are more sustainable and can promote economic growth, increase peoples’ well-being, good for job creation, and obtain economic efficiency.”
He said “obviously China is a close stakeholder of the debt issue of Zambia. We are very much aware of the economic activities…It is unnecessary to worry about the development of the bilateral practical cooperation, according to some people, we’ll increase Zambia’s debt burden”.
Ambassador Li stressed that: “China follows three principles in Zambia and other African countries. Where we talking about loans, the provision of financial resources. First of all, China adheres to the principle of no attachment of political conditions in relation to Zambia and African countries. China always respects the will and actual needs of its counterparts.”
And Ambassador Li said Zambia formerly joined the BRI family which had laid the institutional foundation and framework for China and Zambia to further expand cooperation.
“Zambia owns special advantages on synergizing with the construction of the BRI,” he said. “China is willing to support Zambia in accelerating the construction of infrastructure in order to help Zambia overcome development bottlenecks and create conditions for development. China will pay more attention to improve Zambian peoples’ livelihood and make every Zambian obtain tangible benefits from participating in the construction of Belt and Road Initiative.”
Ambassador Li said when President Lungu met with President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders, he said it was the old generation of leaders, especially Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Chairman Mao of China, that established and nurtured the Zambia-China relationship.
He said Zambia hoped to jointly build the Belt and Road Initiative with the Chinese to broaden the cooperation of all areas within the framework of FOCAC.
“The Chinese side is willing to follow the good tradition of friendly cooperation with Zambia and insists to view and boost bilateral relationship from a strategic plan and with a long-term perspective,” Ambassador Li said.
He said TAZARA was the eternal monument of China-Zambia and China-Africa friendship.
“We will cooperate more to revitalize the TAZARA,” Ambassador Li said. “We will deepen the mutual benefit cooperation and broaden cultural cooperation exchanges.”
He said the Chinese economy had transformed from the stage of high-speed to high-quality.
Ambassador Li said Zambia was in the initial stage of industrialization.
He said it would be a win-win situation for both countries to strengthen practical cooperation and not just beneficial for one of them.
“I would like to emphasise here in particular that China supports Zambia in achieving industrialization and agricultural modernization,” Ambassador Li said. “In the future, practical cooperation between the two countries will be shifted to this direction. The construction and operation of industrial parks and the transfer of manufacturing industries are expected to become new growth points.”
He said China would support the upgrading of the infrastructure of the Zambia-China Industrial Park.
Ambassador Li said President Lungu and President Xi held talks in Beinjing and witnessed the signing of a series of agreements and documents.
Giving a history of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which was established in 2000, Ambassador Li said it was an important platform for collective dialogue, solidarity and cooperation.
He explained that since the last meeting in South Africa in 2015, China had helped Africa construct about 30,000 kilometres of road, set up more than 30,000 kilometres of power transmission lines, clean water treatment capacity of 9 million tonnes per year, power generation capacity of 20,000 megawatts, among others.
He explained that China had created nearly 900,000 jobs for African countries with more than 200,000 professionals and technical personnel receiving Chinese training locally, 40,000 civil servants and technicians receiving training in China.
He said Chinese and African leaders had held more than 100 events, including the opening ceremony, the leaders’ round table meeting, China Africa Entrepreneurs’ Conference and bilateral talks.
“President Xi Jinping delivered a series of keynote speeches at different occasions, which comprehensively elaborated on the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith and the values of friendship, justice and shared interests, and provided clear-cut answers for the major topics such as origin, the path and development direction of China-Africa relations,” he explained.
“President Xi Jinping exmphasised that ‘For China, we are always Africa’s good friend, good partner and good brother. We follow a ‘five-no’ approach in our relations with Africa: no interference in African countries’ pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions; no interference in African countries’ internal affairs; no imposition of our will on African countries, no attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa; and no seeking selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation with Africa.”
Ambassador Li also talked about the additional US$60bn that his country had provided for Africa at the last summit for industry promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchange, peace and security initiatives.
He said China and African countries were presently implementing the outcome of the FOCAC Beijing Summit.
“I would like to emphasise that the China-Africa cooperation in the new era is not to divide the cake equally among all African countries. As the saying goes, ‘the early bird catches the worm.’ Whoever is prepared and qualified will benefit first and benefit more,” he said.
Ambassador Li said the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa, in the new era, would no longer be limited to development assistance but would follow principles of government leadership, corporate ownership, market operation and win-win cooperation.
“We are very delighted to notice that President Lungu has already made clear instructions to immediately implement the bilateral agreements. China welcomes Zambia to be one of the leading countries in Africa in implementing the outcomes of FOCAC Beijing Summit,” said Ambassador Li.