Xiplomacy: Stronger China-Zambia friendship brings concrete benefits to Zambian people

Branding Voice
By Xinhua | Sep 29, 2023
The Zambia women perform a dance during the launch of China-funded mega-road project in Chisamba Zambia, Sept. 8, 2017. [Xinhua/Peng Lijun]

For Fidelity Sindolo, who runs a hair salon in the Zambian capital of Lusaka, power outages used to be a big headache, rendering her business in an on-and-off cycle.

In March this year, the Chinese-built Kafue Gorge Lower Hydropower Station, about 90 km south of Lusaka, was put into operation, generating stable electricity that powers the lives of local residents.

Not just Sindolo's salon thrived; new shops sprang up all over the town, a sign of vibrant economic activity stimulated by the hydropower plant.

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, who officially commissioned the plant, said the completion of the project was not only good for the country's energy sector but for the economy as a whole as energy is critical to drive an economy.

He said the project showed the friendly relationship between the two countries, and his government is committed to further growing the relationship with China.

Last week, at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, Hichilema paid a state visit to China. The two leaders announced the elevation of bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, opening a new chapter in their traditional friendly ties.

Abiding friendship

China and Zambia share an enduring, traditional friendship, which was forged by the leaders of the two countries of past generations. Early in the 1960s, the Chinese people firmly supported the Zambian people in pursuing national independence. Zambia was the first country in southern Africa to establish diplomatic relations with China.

For more than half a century, however, the international landscape evolves, both sides stay committed to deepening friendship and cooperation, making China and Zambia "all-weather friends," as well as an exemplar of China-Africa friendship.

A local artist views a 3D+AR interactive display of 24 solar terms during the "Meet China Digital Media Arts Exhibition" in Lusaka, Zambia, on November 14, 2019. [Xinhua/Peng Lijun]

In the 1970s, at the request of Tanzania and Zambia, China and Africa jointly built the Tanzanian Railway, known as the Road of Friendship and the Road of Freedom, on the vast African grassland. Some engineers and workers even gave their lives.

In 2022, the TAZARA Memorial Park officially opened in Lusaka. In the center of the Memorial Park stands a towering monument inscribed with the words "The Chinese Martyrs Who Aided to Zambia Will Be Immortalized Forever." Rows of tombstones are finely engraved with the names of the dead.

"We remember our fallen heroes," said Hichilema at the opening ceremony, who laid a wreath in tribute to the Chinese personnel who sacrificed their lives for the construction of the TAZARA Railway and other projects.

Greater cooperation

The Kafue Gorge Lower Hydropower Station is a striking testimony to close cooperation between China and Zambia to improve local livelihoods. In recent years, China and Zambia have carried out all-round cooperation in a wide range of fields, at various levels and in a practical and innovative manner within the framework of the "Belt and Road" and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

China and Zambia have jointly built a new modern terminal at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport and the new Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, equipping Zambia with new aviation hubs; Chinese-built state-of-the-art milling plants have improved the supply of food and stabilized food prices for Zambian people; the Kafue Bulk Water Supply Project has been successfully delivered to ensure that about 500,000 people in the Zambian capital have access to clean and safe water.

In 2022, China and Zambia signed protocols on the export of stevia and soybean meal to China, and the zero-tariff treatment granted by China to Zambia for 98 percent of the taxable export products exported to China came into full effect. In 2022, the bilateral trade volume between China and Zambia reached 6.73 billion U.S. dollars, a year-on-year increase of 30.2 percent, which is an all-time high.

During last week's visit to China, Hichilema highly praised the guiding philosophy and principles of Chinese modernization and expressed the hope to learn from China's development experience.

For his part, Xi said during their talks that the success of Chinese modernization shows the diversity of modernization models in the world, and China's high-quality development and modernization process will continue to bring new opportunities to all countries including Zambia.

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