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Written Interview of H.E. Mr Li Jie,Chinese Ambassador to Zambia

  • E. Mr. Li Jie, Chinese Ambassador to Zambia,has given a written response to several questions recently asked by Zambian journalists. Below is the full text.

Question 1: The sixth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was convened recently. Please brief us on the plenary session and its significance.

Ambassador Li: The 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) convened its sixth plenary session in Beijing from 8th to 11th November, 2021. At the session, the Central Committee considered and adopted the Resolution on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century and the Resolution on the Convocation of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

   

The session was an important and milestone meeting held on the occasion of the CPC’s centenary and during a critical period for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Reviewing the past and looking into the future, the Resolution on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century gave a comprehensive and systematic summary of the Party’s centennial struggle, especially the over 40 years of reform and opening up, and summed up valuable historical experience of the CPC in the past century, mainly covering ten aspects: upholding the CPC’s leadership, putting the people first, advancing theoretical innovation, staying independent, following the Chinese path, maintaining a global vision, breaking new ground, standing up for ourselves, promoting the united front, and remaining committed to self-reform.

The CPC will have a precise grasp of historical trends, fully implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, stand firm in ideals and convictions, and stay true to its founding mission. The CPC will remain modest and prudent, guard against arrogance and rashness, and work hard, but not be intimidated by any risks or led astray by any distraction. With the determination to never let up until the goals are reached and the attitude that the last leg of the journey marks the halfway point only, the CPC will make unremitting efforts to advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. China will continue to uphold the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind and the purpose of world peace and common development, unswervingly promote high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative, and work with Zambia and other countries to make greater contribution to world peace, development and human progress.

Question 2: Zambia’s new government has been established for almost 3 months. How do you see the recent developments of China-Zambia relations? What do you expect for the bilateral relations going forward?

Ambassador Li: Recently, bilateral relations between China and Zambia have maintained a sound momentum of development. We have witnessed close high-level interactions between the two countries, and our practical cooperation has produced new outcomes.

After the general elections, H.E. Mr. Xi Jinping, President  of the People’s Republic of China, congratulated H.E. President Hakainde Hichilema on the latter’s election and pointed out that China and Zambia are good friends, good partners and good brothers. President Xi said that he attaches great importance to the development of China-Zambia relations, values the traditional friendship between the two countries, and stands ready to work with President Hichilema to deepen bilateral cooperation in various fields, so as to bring benefits to both countries and their people. In October, President Hichilema sent a message of congratulations to President Xi on the 72nd anniversary of of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and President Xi conveyed his congratulations to President Hichilema on the country’s 57th independence anniversary. Two weeks ago, President Hichilema was invited as the only head of state from Africa to attend the 4th China International Import Expo online and delivered a video speech.

I met with President Hichilema twice after the elections and we had in-depth exchanges of views on bilateral relations and issues of common concern. President Hichelema said that Zambia’s new government places a high premium on Zambia-China friendship and is firmly committed to keeping good relations with China. He said that Zambia stands ready to explore new ways for more cooperation with China, benefiting the two peoples. Last month, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a telephone conversation with the Zambian Foreign Minister Stanley Kakubo. The two foreign ministers again stressed their firm commitment to the all-weather friendship between the two countries and reached the consensus of cooperation on the fight against COVID-19 and economic and trade exchanges among others.

Apart from those developments, the 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines that China donated to Zambia have arrived in the country and been put into use. China has announced to donate another 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines on top of the doses that we have donated to Zambia previously, which will give strong support to Zambia’s efforts against the epidemic.

At the beginning of November, the Chinese Humanitarian Food Aid of 3,099 tons of yellow maize was handed over to the Zambian Government. That was to support the Zambian Government and its people to cope with food crisis brought by climate change and help Zambia realize its aspiration for poverty reduction.

For the first half of 2021, the trade volume between China and Zambia reached USD 2.619 billion, increasing by 63% from 2020. Zambia’s export to China rose by 83.1% to USD 2.266 billion. Over the same period, China’s direct investment in Zambia across all sectors stood at USD 166 million.

In the next stage, I hope that the bilateral relations can continue to achieve new development and the all-weather friendship can continue to benefit the two peoples.

We should deepen our friendship. The traditional friendship between China and Zambia, nurtured by the elder generation of leaders of both countries, including Chairman Mao Zedong and Founding President Kenneth David Kaunda, is so precious that we should cherish and carry it forward. Over the past half century, no matter how the international situation changes, the two sides have attached great importance to bilateral ties and worked in the furtherance of friendly cooperation. The essence of our “all-weather friendship” has always been sustained by both sides. It is important that we implement the consensus of leaders of the two countries on further developing our relationship and continue to deepen the friendship, benefiting the two peoples.

We should enhance policy coordination. China and Zambia have always maintained close economic ties and frequent people-to-people exchanges. That’s why we should strengthen dialogue and consultation at various levels and create a favourable environment for trade and investment and people-to-people exchanges. As developing countries, China and Zambia share wide-ranging common interests and aspirations. The two countries should strengthen coordination and cooperation on international issues including maintaining regional and world peace, promoting common development, addressing climate change and others, so as to safeguard the common interests of developing countries.

We should promote development cooperation. Half a century ago, China and Zambia were comrades jointly striving for national liberation and political independence. Today China will continue to be a firm partner of Zambia on the latter’s development path. China is willing to share its development opportunities with Zambia, to help the country accelerate its industrialization and truly achieve economic independence. We encourage Zambia to actively participate in the Global Development Initiative and the Initiative on Partnership for Africa’s Development, so as to advance post-pandemic economic recovery and realize strong, green and sound development.

Question 3: You just mentioned that President Hichilema gave a video speech to the 4th China International Import Expo. Can you share more information about that? How would China promote economic cooperation between Zambia and China?

Ambassador Li: The 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE) closed in Shanghai on 10th November, achieving another complete success. President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech titled “Let the Breeze of Openness Bring Warmth to the World” at the opening ceremony, declaring China’s firm determination to safeguard true multilateralism, share development opportunities with the rest of the world, promote high-standard opening up, and uphold the common interests of the world. As the only national-level expo with the theme of imports, this year’s CIIE once again exceeded USD 70 billion in turnover by year, injecting confidence and impetus into the recovery from Covid-19 pandemic and the joint construction of an open world economy by all countries.

With long-time attention and support for the CIIE, Zambia was invited as the guest of honor at the second CIIE in 2019, which successfully promoted the export of high-quality Zambian agricultural products such as honey and blueberries to China. At the opening ceremony of this year’s CIIE, President Hakainde Hichilema, as the only invited African head of state, delivered a speech , where he spoke highly of China’s overcoming the pandemic to hold the CIIE as scheduled, and looked forward to further strengthening Zambia-China trade cooperation. This is not only conducive to Zambian high-quality products entering China and going global through the CIIE platform, but also to the continued in-depth development of China-Zambia mutually beneficial and win-win economic and trade cooperation.

China has become an important trade partner of and investment source for Zambia. There is great room for strengthening practical cooperation. Last year, the trade volume between China and Zambia reached USD 3.988 billion, including USD 3.306 billion export from Zambia to China. We are glad to see that Zambia has enjoyed huge trade surpluses to China, and welcome more Zambian products to be exported to China by granting zero-tariff treatment to Zambian products covering 97% of tariff lines. In 2020, Zambia attracted additional USD 500 million of foreign direct investment from China, ranking first among African countries for the third year in a row. The Chinese government is willing to continue to encourage credible enterprises to invest and develop their businesses in Zambia.

Question 4: Senegal announced that the eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will be held in Dakar, Senegal on 29th and 30th November. Could you tell us more details about the Conference?

Ambassador Li: The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is an important platform for collective dialogue and effective mechanism for practical cooperation between China and Africa. Since its inception 21 years ago, FOCAC has spearheaded international cooperation with Africa and become a golden brand for South-South cooperation.

The eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will be held on 29th and 30th November in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, the African co-chair of FOCAC. With the theme of “Deepen China-Africa Partnership and Promote Sustainable Development to Build a China-Africa Community with a Shared Future in the New Era”, the conference will review and assess the follow-up implementation of the outcomes of the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit as well as the joint China-Africa response to COVID-19, and chart the course for China-Africa relations for the next three years and more to come.

Zambia is an important participant in the FOCAC and a major beneficiary. Since the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, with the joint efforts of both parties, China and Zambia have achieved fruitful results in practical cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, energy, medical and health, and food security, and Zambia has greatly benefited from the Eight Major China-Africa Cooperation Initiatives. Practical cooperation projects such as Lower Kafue Gorge Hydropower Station, Levy Mwanawasa Hospital, and the new terminal of Kenneth Kaunda International Airport have brought tangible benefits to the Zambian people.

The forthcoming FOCAC will also provide new opportunities for Zambia to share the fruits from China’s development, to implement national development plans, to build a diversified economy, to improve employment and people’s livelihood, as well as to deepen practical cooperation with China in various fields and write a new chapter of China-Zambia traditional friendship.

Zambia’s Foreign Minister Hon. Kakubo has readily accepted the invitation to the Conference. He said that Zambia will actively participate in the forthcoming FOCAC meeting and continue to promote more exchanges and cooperation between African countries and China. With the support of the Zambian side, the forthcoming FOCAC meeting is believed to build the strategic consensus between China and Africa, promote unity in the pandemic response and boost Africa’s development and prosperity at a faster speed.

Question 5: The world is now facing many difficulties and challenges. What do you think China as the largest developing country can do to help tackle the challenges?

Ambassador Li: Recently, President Xi Jinping attended   major multilateral events including the general debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the leaders’ summit of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the second United Nations Global Sustainable Transport Conference, the 16th G20 Leaders’ Summit and others, and delivered important remarks. He put forward a series of initiatives and proposals and offered China’s solution to a host of global issues such as COVID-19 control, economic recovery, biodiversity and climate change, receiving worldwide attention.

First, deepen global cooperation against COVID-19. President Xi has stressed on many occasions the need to make vaccines a global public good and ensure vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. Of pressing priority is to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines globally. China will strive to provide a total of two billion doses of vaccines to the world by the end of this year. In addition to donating 100 million US dollars to COVAX, China will donate 100 million doses of vaccines to other developing countries in the course of this year. China will continue to support and engage in global science-based origins tracing, and stands firmly opposed to political maneuvering in whatever form.

Second, boost world economic recovery and pursue development. President Xi proposed the Global Development Initiative, calling on the international community to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for more robust, greener and more balanced global development, and foster a global community of development with a shared future. This major Initiative has set out a blueprint for the development of countries and international development cooperation, and pointed the way forward for global development and international development cooperation.  The Initiative is an important public good and cooperation platform that China provides to the international community. It is open to the whole world and welcomes the participation of all countries. It will form synergy with other initiatives including the Belt and Road Initiative, Agenda 2063 of the African Union, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, so as to help Zambia and other African countries realize sustainable development.

Third, build a community of life for man and nature. President Xi pointed out that green mountains are gold mountains and silver mountains, and humanity and nature need to coexist in harmony. He announced China’s initiative to establish a Kunming Biodiversity Fund and take the lead by investing 1.5 billion yuan RMB to support biodiversity protection in developing countries. China’s actions on climate change are real. China adds about 12,000 hectares of forest area and 90,000 kW of installed photovoltaic capacity on average per day. In the meantime, China has allocated about 1.1 billion yuan for south-south cooperation on climate change in recent years, donated energy conservation and new energy products and devices to almost 40 countries, helped relevant countries to launch meteorological satellites, and trained nearly 1,500 officials and technical personnel working in the climate response sector of 120 developing countries, and done our best to provide assistance and support for fellow developing countries under the framework of south-south cooperation on climate change.

President Xi’s proposition has been warmly received and echoed by many countries and international organizations including the UN. The shared belief is that his remarks will help galvanize global efforts, bring global development to a new stage that is balanced, coordinated and inclusive, and accelerate implementation of the 2030 SDGs. China will continue to uphold openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, practice true multilateralism, and make unremitting efforts for and new contributions to advancing global solidarity against COVID-19, promoting world economic recovery and development, improving global economic governance and promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

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