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Interview with the New Chinese Ambassador to Zambia H.E. Du Xiaohui about issues concerned by Zambian readers

(From Chinese Embassy in Zambia)

2022-05-17 20:22

Recently, Chinese Ambassador to Zambia H.E. Du Xiaohui answered questions on China-Zambia relations, bilateral cooperation and international and regional situation in his first interview from major Zambian newspapers. Here is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Your excellency, welcome to take your new post as the Chinese Ambassador to Zambia. Please brief us your diplomatic career.

Amb. Du: I feel very much honoured to be appointed as the 16th Chinese Ambassador to Zambia. Zambia is the first country where I serve as ambassador. I once worked in the European Department and Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, Chinese Embassy in Germany and in Austria. Before coming to Zambia, I served as the Consul General in Hamburg. The past experience has made me feel that, both as developing countries, China and Zambia has enjoyed friendly relations that is deeply rooted in the hearts of the two peoples with a profound historical heritage. I’m looking forward to working with people from all walks of life in Zambia to continue our friendship, promote our cooperation and benefit the two countries and peoples.

Question 2: Having been engaged in China’s diplomacy in Europe, you now first set foot on the African land. What’s your impression of Zambia?

Amb. Du: Though it is the first time I come to Zambia, I could tell you that this beautiful country is no stranger to me. The China-Zambia all weather friendship, a much told tale, has been carried forward for generations, and is a “compulsory history course” to Chinese students and the “first lesson” to diplomats. After reading all the Minutes of Talks, I was moved by the history of exchanges and friendship between the elder generation of the Chinese leaders Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping and Zambian founding father President Kenneth Kaunda. That inspired me and my colleague to fulfil our missions. I never forget when late Premier Zhou Enlai commented on China-Zambia friendship in his very last years, “The torch which we held high and led and inspired the younger generation will be passed down forever.”

I have three main impressions. First, China-Zambia friendship is one that always carries the DNA of embracing the world. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, our two countries have built up mutual respect and equal treatment, and have given firm support on each other's core interests and major concerns.

Second, China-Zambia friendship is one that features mutual assistance in time of need. Though facing its own economic difficulties at the time, China made the firm decision to build the TAZARA upon request. My hometown Shandong Province nurtured 4 technicians who lost their lives during the construction of the railway and were buried in Zambia, and it was also here where the customized locomotives were manufactured. For this, I always feel excited about and very proud of.

Third, China-Zambia cooperation is one that has always been a benchmark of China-Africa relations. During the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), I was honoured to receive the Zambian delegation. This forged my connection to Zambia and my awareness of the special role of China-Zambia cooperation in China-Africa relations. I will work diligently to live up to the call of history and the good expectations of the two peoples, to ensure that the torch of the friendship pass on from generation to generation.

Question 3: Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the Zambia-China relations have been growing steadily. How do you see the history and current status of the bilateral relations and practical cooperation?

Amb. Du: Before coming to Zambia, I had extensive and in-depth exchanges with Chinese people who were deeply involved in the China-Zambia friendship and cooperation. Among them were grey-haired ambassadors and energetic managers who had just returned from Zambia. The consensus in Beijing was: Driven by the two heads of state, powered by the practical cooperation, along the tracks of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the FOCAC, the train of China-Zambia relations is going on the fast lane of China-Africa and South-South cooperation with the solid foundation of traditional friendship.

China and Zambia are good friends, good partners and good brothers. The top leaders of China and 7 presidents of Zambia have all cared for and led the way forward for the China-Zambia relations. Since last year, President Xi Jinping and President Hakainde Hichilema exchanged letters for multiple times, President Hichilema attended the 4th China International Import Expo, State Councilor Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Stanley Kakubo met each other in Dakar and Tunxi China. All those reflect the height of our relations in the new era, the warmth of high-level interaction and the depth of mutual political trust between our two countries.

Since landing at the China-aid modern terminal of the Zambian air hub, Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, I saw the Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital, the largest China-aid hospital project in Africa. I saw the China-Zambia Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre, which is committed to technology promotion and capacity building. I passed by the Kennith Kaunda International Conference Center, which will host the 2022 African Union Coordinating Conference. Fruits of China-Zambia cooperation are everywhere. In 2021, the bilateral trade between our two countries has achieved a remarkable growth of 23.1% against the global economy downtrend, which created more than fifty thousand job opportunities. Anyone without prejudice should agree that China-Zambia cooperation has a solid foundation, fruitful results and huge potential.

I’d like to share 3 latest news about the cooperation and exchanges between our two countries: The second batch of 600,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Chinese government has arrived in Zambia, which made the total amount of China-aid vaccine reach 1.1 million. The newly-sent 23rd Chinese Medical Team and the 25th Chinese Military Medical Team have picked the batons of the sacred life-saving mission as angels in white. After a 3-year construction period, the TAZARA Memorial Park has been completed and will soon be open to the public. I sincerely invite Zambian people, especially youth, to visit the Park. Only by remembering the history can we shape a brighter future.

Question 4: The COVID-19 pandemic remains severe and the international situation is increasingly complex. What’s your talk on this? How should Zambia and China jointly address the challenges?

Amb. Du: What strikes me most about the international situation this year is uncertainty. With the high level of the COVID-19 pandemic and the people’s living costs, the global economy and society have been severely impacted. It calls for true friends to fight against uncertainty. China has provided assistance with vaccines and emergency anti-pandemic materials to Zambia, which has promoted the accessibility and affordability of vaccines and protected people's lives. China will continue to provide necessary assistance, share its experience, to support Zambia for its economic and social development, as well as economic recovery.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has caused the international situation to deteriorate, introducing additional uncertainty to the world. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, "Changes of the world, of our times and of history are unfolding in ways like never before. These changes are posing challenges that must be taken seriously by humanity." African peace and security issues cannot be ignored. The threat of unilateralism, hegemonism and power politics is rising. Humanity is a community with a shared future, and no country can stay immune to challenges. Going through great changes in the international situation, China-Zambia friendship can bring certainty to the world.

China has always performed its historical duties as a responsible major country. The "Global Security Initiative" proposed by President Xi Jinping at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022 champions the commitment in six areas. As another global public good offered by China after the BRI and the Global Development Initiative (GDI),it calls for the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and rejecting the Cold War mentality and the wanton use of unilateral sanctions. With this initiative, China aims to contribute its wisdom and solutions for closing the peace deficit for humanity and tackling the challenges of international security. History has proven that putting together exclusive small circles or blocs won’t work, and the practice of unilateralism disguised as multilateralism and double standards disguised as international rules are unpopular. All the countries including China and Zambia, can only contribute to maintaining world peace and stability, by upholding the concept of peaceful development, jointly addressing common challenges, and resolving regional issues through peaceful dialogue.

Question 5: What do you expect in developing the relationship and mutually beneficial cooperation between Zambia and China?

Amb. Du: I am full of confidence in the future of China-Zambia relations and practical cooperation. This is based on the grasp of 3 general trends:

First, the general trend of history. The popular support as well as the origin of China-Zambia friendship are in accordance with the trend of history. China has always viewed and promoted the traditional friendship from a strategic and long-term perspective in keeping with the call of times.

Second, the general trend of China's development. China is achieving its second centenary goal and the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held in the latter half of this year. No country can stop the historical trend of China and friendly countries sharing development opportunities, which China has continuously brought to the world this century.

Third, the general trend of China-Africa cooperation. In the 8th Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC last year, President Xi Jinping announced that China will work closely with African countries to implement 9 programs, and put forward the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation. Following the unstoppable trend, working with the Zambian government and people, I’m willing to promote the China-Zambia friendship and practical cooperation to bring tangible benefits to the two peoples.

Question 6: What is your hobby? Are you familiar with football, the most popular sport in Zambia?

Amb. Du: I love reading and swimming. Reading teaches me how to recognize the trend, and swimming requires me to grasp the trend in practice. I’d like to express my congratulations to the Zambian swimmers for their excellent performance in the CANA Zone 4 swimming championships. I also like watching football games. I really feel sad for the tragedy of the Zambian men’s national football team in 1993, and from this I feel the formidable fortitude and spirit of the Zambia nation. I was impressed by the match between the Chinese and Zambian women’s national football teams during the Tokyo Olympics last year. Captain of the Copper Queens, Barbara Banda, who is currently playing for the Shanghai Women’s Football Club, scored a hat-trick to help the team draw with the Chinese team. Banda, together with two great Zambian football players in Chinese Super League (CSL), James Chamanga and Christopher Katongo, are well-loved by Chinese fans for their excellent skills and personality, and have become friendly envoys for sports and cultural exchanges to China. More unofficial ambassadors and extraordinary efforts of ordinary people are much needed to continue the story of our traditional friendship.

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