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Promote China-Africa Mutually Beneficial Cooperation in the New Era

--Book Presentation Held for “A Monument to China-Africa Friendship”

2016/05/23

On May 20, 2016, a lively atmosphere swept the railway platform of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the starting station of Tazara. This landmark building, which has witnessed the glorious history of China-Tanzania and China-Africa relations, is like an amiable old man who welcomes guests from afar with his open arms and tells the touching stories happened over forty years ago. Here, the Policy Planning Department of the Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Tanzania are hosting the book presentation of the English version of A Monument to China-Africa Friendship: First-hand Account of the Building of Tazara. Director-General Wang Yajun of the Policy Planning Department delivered a keynote speech entitled Carry Forward Tazara Spirit, Promote China-Africa Mutually Beneficial Cooperation in the New Era. H.E. Lv Youqing, Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania, addressed the book presentation and gave books to the guests.

Former Prime Minister of Tanzania and former Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity Salim Ahmed Salim, who participated in the decision-making process of supporting the building of Tazara, Acting Permanent Secretary Ramadhan Mwinyi of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Tanzania, and Deputy Managing Director Betram Kiswaga of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority attended and addressed the event. More than 100 people attended the book presentation, including former Minister of Transport of Tanzania and others who participated in the building of Tazara, the Chinese expert group on Tazara, representatives from all circles in Tanzania, diplomatic envoys to Tanzania, and Chinese and foreign journalists.

We should look back at the history and look into the future. Wang Yajun said that as one of China’s largest foreign-aid turnkey project and the biggest construction aid project in Africa, Tazara embodies the wisdom and efforts of the older generation of Chinese and African leaders, the unremitting pursuit to freedom and development of the Chinese, Tanzanian and Zambian people, and the long-lasting traditional friendship between the Chinese and African people through thick and thin. To make more young people understand the history and devote themselves to the cause of China-Africa friendship, the history dictation group of the Policy Planning Department of the Foreign Ministry elaborately compiled the book by deeply exploring relevant historical literature and interviewing a large number of Tazara witnesses who participated in Tazara construction from China, Tanzania and Zambia. The book comprehensively reflects detailed information of the decade-long course of Tazara from decision-making, inspecting, designing, and constructing to hand-over, reviving the traditional friendship fostered with blood and sweat between the Chinese and African people. The book has provided us a valuable history textbook for carrying forward Tazara spirit and opening up a bright future for China-Africa friendly cooperation.

Wang Yajun pointed out that the reason why Tazara spirit is important is that it represents the determined spirit of the Chinese and African people featuring joint endeavor and perseverance, embodies the pioneering spirit and indomitable will in China-Africa cooperation, and symbolizes the nature of China-Africa relationship featuring equity, mutual benefit and common development. The completion of Tazara has brought economic and political independence to Tanzania and Zambia, as well as unprecedented economic development to regions along the route. Tazara not only closely connects the people of China, Tanzania and Zambia, but also promotes all-around cooperation between China and African countries, bringing tangible benefits to both the Chinese and African people. Over nearly half a century, Tazara has withstood the test of history and has been playing an important role in the economic and social development of Tanzania, Zambia and southeastern Africa. It is believed that with joint efforts of the three sides, the railway of freedom and friendship in the past is bound to become a railway of development and prosperity in the new era.

Wang Yajun stressed that developing unity and cooperation with African countries is the cornerstone of China’s foreign policies. President Xi Jinping came to Africa in March 2013 for his first foreign visit after he took office. And during his stay in Tanzania, he put forward the guidelines of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith toward Africa, and emphasized that the correct viewpoint on righteousness and benefit should be followed. At the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in December 2015, President Xi Jinping proposed to upgrade China-Africa relations to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, put forward the “ten major cooperative plans” between China and Africa and announced that China will provide 60 billion USD as financial support for the plans. Highly consistent with the development vision and priorities set in Agenda 2063 of the African Union, these moves have drafted a comprehensive plan and top-level design for China-Africa relations, and unfolded a new blueprint for China-Africa cooperation in the new era. With China-Africa relations currently at a new starting point in history, we should implement the outcomes of the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit and promote China-Africa mutually beneficial cooperation with the same persistent and pioneering spirit demonstrated during the building of Tazara. To this end, we should vigorously promote the docking of development strategies between China and Africa to boost Africa’s independent development, vigorously promote production capacity cooperation and industrial alignment to achieve common development of China and Africa, and make innovation in cooperation models to ensure a sustainable development of China-Africa cooperation.

Wang Yajun pointed out that Tanzania is China’s all-weather good partner, good friend and good brother. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Tanzania 52 years ago, bilateral cooperation has been taking the lead in China-Africa relations. At present, President John Magufuli is leading the Tanzanian people in making every effort for the rapid development of the country. There is great potential for China-Tanzania cooperation. The Chinese government has listed Tanzania as a priority partner in China’s production capacity cooperation with Africa, and China will focus on supporting Tanzania in its industrialization and relevant infrastructure construction and human resource development. China is willing to join efforts with Tanzania to take the opportunity of implementing outcomes of the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit, comprehensively strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries in all areas, forge China-Tanzania cooperation into a new model and a new benchmark for China-Africa cooperation in the new era and continue to lead the development of China-Africa practical cooperation.

 

As a legendary figure in the history of China-Africa relations, Salim Ahmed Salim recalled in his speech Premier Zhou Enlai’s visit to Tanzania in February 1965 and President Julius Nyerere’s visit to China in the same year, pointing out that those two important visits established the sincere friendship between the two countries and peoples, and laid a solid foundation for China’s aid in building Tazara. Although once questioned and opposed, Tazara was successfully completed nevertheless, and played an important historical role in supporting the liberation movement in southeastern African countries and making great contributions to the economic development of Tanzania and Zambia. Until today, Tazara remains to be the biggest and best project built by China in Africa. Now Africa has achieved its political freedom, and Tazara should become the frontier for economic freedom and boost fast development in Tazara corridor by providing more efficient transportation.

Ramadhan Mwinyi said that the book’s publication and today’s presentation let us once again reminisce founding leaders, such as Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai, President Julius Nyerere and President Kenneth Kaunda for laying a solid foundation for Africa-China friendship. The world-renowned Tazara is a model of South-South solidarity, and reflects the common aspirations of Africa and China to pursue economic and political independence. Although 40 years have passed, the meaning and significance of Tazara have not changed at all. It is hoped that the two governments can continue to make good use of the all-weather partnership, push forward the mutually beneficial cooperation and benefit the two peoples.

Betram Kiswaga told the audience that the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority has worked hard to improve the operation management of the railway since last year. This year, the volume is expected to double that of last year, and the time span of goods transportation is also greatly shortened. With joint efforts of China, Tanzania and Zambia, Tazara is certain to restore its former glory and make new contributions to the economic development of Tanzania, Zambia and the neighboring countries as well as Tanzania-China cooperation and Africa-China cooperation.

Lv Youqing said that the official publication of the book vividly represents the historic feat and hard course of the Chinese and African people in co-building Tazara, and offers a new chance for us to honor the martyrs, inherit the past, usher in the future and promote continuous development of the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership. It is also the best consolation to heroes who made sacrifices and contributions to the cause of China-Africa friendship. In early May, with active efforts of relevant authorities of the three countries, the three countries held the work conference on rehabilitation and sustainable development of Tazara, discussing together the future development of Tazara. We believe that under the great importance attached by leaders of the three countries and with the joint efforts of the three peoples, Tazara is certain to regain its former splendor, continue to play an important role in the economic and social development of Tanzania and Zambia, and add a new chapter to China-Africa friendship.

A Monument to China-Africa Friendship: First-hand Account of the Building of Tazara is compiled by the Policy Planning Department of the Foreign Ministry and published by the World Affairs Press. The Chinese version has 220, 000 words, consisting of two parts— document literature and compilation of dictation by the witnesses. The English and French versions only include the compilation of dictation. Before the event in Dar es Salaam, the Policy Planning Department of the Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Zambia jointly held a book presentation in Lusaka, capital of Zambia. The English version of the book is well received in Tanzania and Zambia. Many Tanzanian people hope that China will translate the book into Swahili so that more people in east Africa can enjoy the moving stories in the book.

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