Before completing his tenure of office and leaving Namibia in October 2007, H. E. Liang Yinzhu, Chinese Ambassador to Namibia, gave an interview to NEW ERA's journalist, in which His Excellency explained in details the latest development of China-Namibia relations.
Q: How would you like to comment on the relationship between China and Namibia?
A: Far as they are from each other geographically, China and Namibia established their traditional friendship in the 1960s and then made it deep rooted. When the Namibian people were struggling for independence, China stood firmly on their side and provided them with moral and material support by overcoming its own difficulties. The two countries established diplomatic relations the day after Namibia gained independence. The friendly cooperation between the two countries has ever since been developing in a steady and sound manner. In recent years, there have been frequent exchanges of high level visits, which greatly helps deepen mutual political trust and promotes cooperation in all fields with marked results. China significantly increased its assistance to Namibia and a number of projects were completed. H.E. Hu Jintao, President of the People's Republic of China, pledged to provide Namibia with RMB 1 billion of concessional loans, 100 million US dollars of preferential export buyer's credit, RMB 30 million yuan of grants and RMB 30 million of interest-free loans during his visit to Namibia in February 2007. Also during this visit, President Hu Jintao undertook to build two rural schools and one hospital for Namibia with Chinese assistance. The two sides are now discussing how to materialize this batch of financial assistance. Trade volume between the two countries increased rapidly and bilateral cooperation in such areas as economy, trade, jurisdiction, education, health, etc has been on the rise. More and more cities in the two countries got twinned with more commercial and cultural exchanges between the two peoples. Some Chinese businessmen came to Namibia to invest, who made contributions to enriching local markets, improving the living standards of the locals and arresting unemployment and poverty. In accordance with the MOU on the Implementation Plan for Organized Group Travel by Chinese Citizens to Namibia signed during President Hu Jintao's visit, Chinese travel agencies will start organizing tourist groups to Namibia as of 15 October 2007. In a word, acting on the Beijing Declaration and Plan of Action of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held last year, the two sides are making concerted efforts to instill vigor and vitality into bilateral relations, which will greatly benefit the two countries and the two peoples.
Q: In your opinion, whether Your Excellency has attained the goals you set when you came here?
A: I took as my prime duty promoting the traditional friendship and cooperation between us so that we both attain development on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. In the past four years, I fulfilled my duty with the concerted efforts of all my staff and thanks to the support of the Namibian Government and friends from all walks of life. During my term of office, H.E. Dr. Sam Nujoma, Founding President of the Republic of Namibia and H.E. Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the Republic of Namibia both visited China twice and H.E. Hu Jintao, President of the People's Republic of China visited Namibia. The trade volume between us increased twofold in 2006 than in 2003. The Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation and Trade was established and two sessions were convened. Our economic cooperation extended to railway, telecommunications and IT. The two regional council buildings constructed with Chinese grants have been handed over to the Namibian side. Work on the new Presidential Residence in the new State House has begun. Preparations are being made to build the Youth Vocational Training Center. The two countries have conducted very close cooperation in international affairs by making joint efforts to safeguard the interests of developing countries. I feel that our bilateral relations are showing signs of gaining momentum in recent years. Also during my term of office, I attached great importance to making the Chinese in Namibia abide by local laws, behave in a civilized manner, get on well with the locals and assist the vulnerable. As a result, Chinese businessmen made repeated donations to victims of floods in the Caprivi Region, San students and OEWONA. That makes me very much gratified. Much as I did, I am fully aware that there is still more I can do. I am confident that the incoming Ambassador will continue this cause and make more contributions to the nation building of Namibia and the development of China-Namibia relationship.
Q: What is the trade volume between China and Namibia?
A: In recent years, our bilateral trade has been growing rapidly. When I just took up my post in 2003, China-Namibia trade volume of that whole year was US$74.57 million, which jumped to 255.5 million in 2006, three times of that in 2003. In the first 7 months of this year, our bilateral trade volume has already reached nearly 200 million. It is expected that the whole year's trade figure in 2007 would redouble compared with 2003.
Q: What products are traded between China and Namibia?
A: China mainly exports to Namibia commodities like vehicles, machinery, electrical appliances, cigarettes, textiles, and shoes. China is also beginning to sell computer softwares to Namibia. Namibia's exported goods to China include minerals like uranium, copper, and manganese, as well as sea products and fur products. China will strive to improve the trade structure with Namibia and increase imports from Namibia. When the Chinese government's economic and trade delegation headed by MR. Gao Hucheng, China's Vice Minister of Commerce, visited Namibia this April, the visiting Chinese entrepreneurs signed 13 business contracts with their Namibian counterparts after only one day's consultation. According to the contracts, the Chinese side will purchase Namibian products worth US$34.7 million, including marble, fish meal, copper, manganese ore, tuna, etc. That fully demonstrates that our bilateral trade is mutually complementary, full of potential, and will have a bright future.
Q: How would you like to comment on the political relations between China and Namibia?
A: China and Namibia are all-weather friends. In recent years, there are frequent visits between our state leaders. In 2005, H.E. Li Changchun, standing member of the Political Bureau of CPC Central Committee visited Namibia; President Pohamba visited China. In 2006, the Founding President H.E. Nujoma visited China for the 13th time while President Pohamba went to China to attend the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation Beijing Summit. This February, H.E. Hu Jintao, President of the People's Republic of China, paid a state visit to Namibia, which has enhanced our political ties to a new height. Meanwhile, the exchanges between parliaments, political parties and local governments of our two countries are increasing. The political consultation mechanism between our two ministries of Foreign Affairs is operated smoothly, with the second round of consultation successfully held in Beijing this July. In the international arena, Namibia sticks to One-China policy, supports China's national reunification, and has helped China defeat Taiwan's attempt to join such international organizations as UN and WHO. China is very grateful for that.
Q: In what fields does China provide training for Namibia? Are there any figures to support what you say?
A: China attaches great importance to cooperation with Namibia in the field of human resources and capacity building. For years, China has helped Namibia in human resources training by providing training courses and academic scholarships in China as well as by sending teachers to Namibia. For instance, from 1998, the Ministry of Commerce of China began to hold training programs each year for government officials and technical personnel from Namibia and other African countries in areas like public administration, macroeconomics, agriculture, aquaculture, mining, and health. In 2006 alone, there were 62 Namibian officials and technical personnel going to China for such courses. From 2001, China offers 5 scholarships every year for Namibian students to study in Chinese universities. This year, the number of Namibian students awarded scholarships from China has increased to 21. The Chinese teachers have long been teaching physics and chemistry in the University of Namibia. This August, China further dispatched a teacher to Unam to support the Chinese language course there. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Information Office of the State Council of China opens training seminars for government information officials and journalists of African countries regularly. Each year, there is one information officer from the Namibian Government and one journalist from a mainstream media institution in Namibia going to China respectively. From 2005-06, experts from the China Central Television came to Namibia and trained the NBC technicians in two phases. Indeed, China's training is an all-round effort to help Namibia's economic development and nation building.
Q: How do you think China and Namibia should carry forward their friendship?
A: China and Namibia should earnestly implement the Beijing Declaration and Beijing Action Plan passed during the Beijing Summit, and make joint efforts in the following fields: First, further strengthen high-level visits, so as to deepen our friendship and consolidate the political grounds of our bilateral relations. Secondly, promote our economic and trade cooperation to a broader scope and a higher standard by (1) speeding up the identification of projects which will use the grants and loans and the implementation of construction of rural schools and hospital pledged by President Hu Jintao during his visit to Namibia; (2) improving our bilateral trade structure and extending our trade cooperation; (3) expanding our cooperation in railway, telecommunication and other areas, and taking effective measures to promote the bilateral cooperation in mining, agriculture, and tourism. China will encourage more entrepreneurs to come and invest in Namibia, and conduct mutually beneficial cooperation with the Namibian side. Thirdly, further expand our exchanges and cooperation in education, culture, human recourses training, health, and promote people-to-people exchanges in order to learn from each other and achieve common development. Fourthly, continue and strengthen our coordination and cooperation in all international organizations including UN and WHO, with our common goal of building a harmonious world.