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Op-Ed by Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Du Xiaohui on the China-Zambia Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership

(From Chinese Embassy in Zambia)

2023-11-22 15:31

China-Zambia Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership: What, Why, and How?

by Mr. Du Xiaohui, Chinese Ambassador to Zambia

At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, President Hakainde Hichilema undertook a State Visit to China from 10 to 16 September 2023. It was a historic successful trip for China-Zambia relations. The most important political achievement of the visit is that the two Heads of State announced to upgrade our bilateral relations into a comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership, after their long and in-depth conversations.

After the visit, the most frequently asked questions my colleagues and I have got are,what is a comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership, and what does that mean for Zambia?

Take a look at the size of the presidential delegation, the number of locations visited, and the number of cooperation documents signed, one can easily appreciate the comprehensive nature of the China-Zambia partnership. The Joint Statement released after the two Presidents’ official talks explains the matter more explicitly. Themed on the Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership and guided by the idea of building a global community of shared future, the Joint Statement consists of thirty-two articles structured around the four important initiatives put forward by President Xi Jinping, namely the Belt and Road Initiative, the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative. It encompasses all the consensus reached by the two Heads of State and deliverables of the visit, and covers all priority areas and key projects of the bilateral relationship. Therefore, we can refer to this document as a medium- and long-term guideline and roadmap for the bilateral relationship and practical cooperation.

The China-Zambia partnership is strategic as the two countries have been working together to tackle global challenges and build a global community of shared future. China and Zambia have always viewed our bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective. The relationship has long gone beyond the bilateral level ever since we established diplomatic ties 59 years ago. It was during a meeting with Dr. Kenneth Kaunda that Chairman Mao Zedong, for the first time, put forward the strategic theory of “Three Worlds”. The theory emphasizes that China, Zambia and other developing countries belong to the third world and that the Government and people of China firmly support all the repressed peoples and nations in struggling for and safeguarding their national independence. China’s aid to the construction of TAZARA was not only to help Zambia, but also to support the national liberation movement in Southern Africa. President Xi Jinping recalled the Three Worlds Theory and discussed cooperation across the Global South when he held talks with President Hichilema. As President Xi pointed out, the rise of developing countries as a group and their growing international influence are an irreversible trend of our times. Developing countries like China and Zambia need to strengthen unity and coordination to practice genuine multilateralism, uphold international equity and justice, increase the say of developing countries and safeguard our common interests.

The China-Zambia partnership is cooperative because we have always been equal-footed and mutually beneficial partners. The Joint Statement solemnly reaffirms that mutual respect, equality and common development are the important principles guiding the bilateral relationship,and common development is what we aim for at the end of the day. We attach no political conditions to cooperation with Zambia and we do not interfere in Zambia’s internal affairs. China-Zambia cooperation does not target any third party and is not subject to disruption by any third party. We partner with Zambia in various areas, not because we want to utilize this partnership to antagonize anyone, but because it’s our consistent policy to safeguard our all-weather friendship for almost six decades. The 16 inter-governmental cooperation documents signed or released during President Hichilema’s visit to China meet the needs of both sides and they provide a policy framework for high-quality and sustainable bilateral cooperation of the two countries. That shows the cooperative part of our partnership. With joint efforts to deliver high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, we should continue to explore the potential for bilateral cooperation and realize common development.

The newly established Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership can be used to describe precisely what our relationship is and will be. It is also what the two Heads of State have instructed, and will take us hard work to materialize.

For example, we should expand areas of cooperation and enhance the comprehensive part of the partnership. We need to build on cooperation in mining, infrastructure and other traditional areas and make further efforts on green development, industrialization, development coordination, people-to-people and cultural interactions and exchanges of ideas. Actions have been taken. One week after the State Visit, Chairman of China Nonferrous Metal Mining (CNMC) made his trip to Zambia and announced new investment of 1.3 billion US dollars. One month after the State Visit, a delegation from Jiangxi Province (one of the Chinese provinces that President Hichilema visited during the Sate Visit) traveled to Zambia and accompanied President Hichilema to commission Zambia Jiangxi Economic Cooperation Zone (Chibombo MFEZ). Later on, the Zambian Government sent a high-level delegation to the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, where two bilateral cooperation projects were included in the List of Practical Cooperation Deliverables. At the same time, senior members of the United Party for National Development (UPND) visited China, in order to exchange governance experience on exploring paths to modernization with the Communist Party of China (CPC) and learn from each other.

We can also play a leading role in China-Africa cooperation and strengthen the strategic part of the partnership. Zambia is contributing greatly to regional and world peace and development as it is now one of the Vice-Chairs of the United Nations General Assembly and chairing COMESA as well as SADC organ on Politics,Defence and Security Cooperation. At the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue with President Hichilema and other African leaders in August, President Xi Jinping announced that China will host the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting in 2024, where China and African countries will come together again and draw up new plans for common development. We welcome constructive inputs from Zambian government officials, think tanks and media on bilateral cooperation under the FOCAC framework. I hope to see more Zambian elements in the design and implementation process of the FOCAC outcomes. I further hope to see bilateral relations benefit more from the next FOCAC meeting. As China and Zambia join hands in modernizing ourselves, we will deliver a better future for the Chinese and Zambian people, and set an example in China-Africa friendship and South-South cooperation.

We should improve quality of cooperation and boost the cooperative part of the partnership. Next year will be the 60th  anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Zambia. It will also be the year of implementation of the important consensus reached by the two Heads of State. China and Zambia have decided to designate 2024 as the Year of Business Cooperation, as well as the Year of Culture and Tourism. We will hold a series of celebration activities and trade, investment and tourism promotion events. We call on the Zambian Government to strengthen policy communication with the Chinese side and introduce more policies conducive to bilateral cooperation. We call on Zambian businesses to grasp the newly upgraded China-Zambia relations as a major commercial opportunity, take advantage of the Chinese market, the largest in the world, and partner with Chinese businesses to realize more investment to Zambia and more export to China. We call on Zambian think tanks and media to draw on the all-weather friendship that China and Zambia have been enjoying for the past sixty years and make recommendations for further improving the quality of our cooperation. I have updated Chinese businesses and nationals in Zambia on the outcomes of the State Visit and the important consensus reached by the two Heads of State, and encouraged them all to step up cooperation with their Zambian counterparts. More cooperation projects, more Chinese tourists, more joint ventures, more PPP projects and more local employment opportunities are on the way.

It takes concerted efforts from both China and Zambia to implement a series of consensus of the two Heads of State. It is important that the government, the business community, think tanks, media houses and civil society all actively participate in this process. Let us all work together to make sure that this Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership will grow from strength to strength.

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