|Liu Xinsheng, Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania: Celebrating 35th Anniversary of Tanzania-Zambia Railway Operation|
July 14th 2011 is a day to be remembered. 35 years ago, the Chinese government handed over the newly-completed Tanzania–Zambia Railway to the governments of Tanzania and Zambia and officially launched it into operation. Since then, Tanzania and Zambia, two friendly neighboring countries, have been in charge of this major railway on their own.
In 1960s and 1970s, to support African people’s just cause of developing their economies, breaking up imperialistic blockade and winning national independence and liberation, the then Chinese leaders made the resolute decision to help African people construct this major project. For it China not only provided funds, but also selected qualified technical staff from all over the nation and sent them to Africa. Working together with more than a hundred thousand Tanzanian and Zambian workers, the Chinese engineers made tremendous efforts in constructing the rail line in spite of the scorching heat and endemics, during which 70 Chinese staff laid down their lives. The Chinese, Tanzanian and Zambian constructors successfully built the high-quality and high-grade railway with extraordinary endeavors upon overcoming all sorts of unimaginable obstacles in 5 years’ time.
To ensure the smooth operation of Tanzania-Zambia Railway, China continued to provide support to the project by sending one after another groups of specialists to Africa, providing funds for the infrastructure and upgrading of important facilities, and training of urgently needed professionals for the operation. Over the past 35 years, the Tanzania-Zambia Railway has seen a total of 27.46 million tons of freight volume and 44.5 million person-times of passenger flow. The Railway has played an important role in bolstering Africa’s national liberation movement by breaking up the blockade of the apartheid regime of South Africa. The railway’s operation has boosted the commodity interflow between the urban and rural areas. Many new towns have emerged along the railway line, which have become political, economic and cultural centers in various regions.
China and Africa have both suffered foreign invasion, oppression and enslavement in the past and, therefore, the Chinese people have deep understanding of African people’s aspiration to safeguard their countries’ independence and develop their economies. That is why China would mobilize the whole country in helping African people construct the Tanzania-Zambia Railway when China itself was not so well off. Such selfless aid to Africa fully showcases the Chinese people’s sincere friendship with the Tanzanian and Zambian people as well as with African people in general. Nyerere and Kaunda, the then Presidents of Tanzania and Zambia, both spoke highly of Tanzania-Zambia Railway, claiming it “a great contribution to the African people” and praising it as a “Road of Freedom” and a “Model of South-South Cooperation”.
In an era of economic globalization with rapid development of science and technology today, Africa, a continent with relatively backward economy but great potential for development, has become the focus of the world. Both China and Africa are faced with new development opportunities and challenges, and the cooperation between both sides has entered a new stage. China has now become Africa’s No.1 trade partner. In face of the booming development of China-Africa cooperation, some people’s accusation that China is practicing “new colonialism” and “looting Africa’s resources” etc is extremely irresponsible. The cooperation between China and Africa is based on equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect, and, as a result, Africa’s economy is growing and its people’s wellbeing improving. The achievements of China-Africa cooperation have more than eloquently proved that such cooperation is in the interest of both sides, and our brothers and sisters in Africa are all for comprehensively developing China-Africa relations. The expansion and deepening of China-Africa relations won’t be derailed by any interference.