Source: Chinese Embassy in Zambia
On February 22, 2011, Li Qiangming, Chinese Ambassador to Zambia, accepted an exclusive interview from Zambian National TV (ZNBC), the most important official media in Zambia. In the interview, Ambassador Li answered questions on China’s nature of being a developing country, its status as the second-largest economy in the world, and economic and trade co-operations with Zambia, among others. The main points of the interview are as follows:
1. China-Zambia Relationship
According to Ambassador Li, the friendly exchanges between the Chinese and Zambian peoples have a long history with long-lasting friendship that has never faded, the two countries having become “all-weather” friends and brothers.Since the beginning of the new period of cooperation, we have seen increasingly more bilateral high-level visits, continuous consolidation and deepening of the economic and trade cooperation, and exchanges in the cultural, educational, health and the people-to-people fields booming. If the relationship between the two countries could be referred to as a flourishingly growing tree, then people may say that China-Zambia relationship is now in the maturing time of blooming and fruit bearing.
2. China becoming the second-largest economy in the world
Ambassador Li pointed out that China has achieved great progress in development by maintaining a steady and relatively fast GDP growth rate in recent years with a continuously expanding economic magnitude. In 2010, China consolidated and expanded the achievements made in addressing the impact of the international financial crisis effectively and the national economy’s performance was generally satisfactory. For the year as a whole, China’s GDP rose to 5.879 trillion US dollars, up by 10.3% over the previous year and the total amount of import and export reached 2.9728 trillion US dollars, a 34.7% increase on year 2009. As China’s economy took the second place in the world, Ambassador Li gave his views on that as follows:
Firstly, the economic growth and rise of China’s ranking in the world are the result of the Chinese people’s hard work for continuous progress when they found a suitable road for China’s development under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, representing the constant dynamism of China’s Reform and Opening-up Drive.
Secondly, although GDP is one of the core indicators for evaluating a country’s economic strength and social development in the economic and development sense, it is not the only one. According to data released by IMF and other international organizations, China’s per capita GDP ranks around 100th in the world, which is less than half of the world average. In the light of the United Nations’ standard of 1 US dollar per person per day, China still has an impoverished population of 150 million, which is a large number, ten times higher than the whole population of Zambia.
Thirdly, disparities and deficiencies in China’s economic and social development should be noted, as there are still prominent problems of imbalance, incongruity and unsustainability in China’s development. China’s nature of being a developing country remains unchanged, so is the basic reality that it would be at the primary stage of socialism for a long time to come. The Chinese government and people are clearly aware of that.
Fourthly, China will continue pursue the Open Policy for mutual benefit and win-win results, deepen economic cooperation with all countries in the world to promote common development of regional and international economies. No matter how China will develop, it will adhere to the peaceful development approach and play an active role in maintaining world peace and promoting common growth, as a responsible member of the international community. The more China develops, the more it will be opportunities and blessings to the world, particularly to a traditionally friendly country like Zambia.
3. China-Zambia Economic and Trade Cooperation
The Ambassador stressed that economic and trade cooperation has always been an important link in China-Zambia friendship which has brought substantial benefits to the two peoples and strongly promoted the two countries’ development. The cooperation features the following characteristics:
(1) Trade volume has grown rapidly and structure optimized constantly.The total trade between China and Zambia reached 2.85 billion US dollars by December 2010, a year-on-year increase of 97.5%. Of which, China’s export to Zambia accounted for 350 million US dollars and Zambia’s export to China 2.5 billion US dollars, resulting in a favorable balance of 2.15 billion US dollars to Zambia. The China-Zambia trade volume ranks the third in southern Africa after South Africa and Angola. China has become Zambia’s second largest export destination and third largest import source, with favorable balance to Zambia constantly increasing. China has further opened its market to Zambian products by exempting tariffs for 65% of the imports and the policy will be expanded to cover 95% of the products by 2012. Trade fairs and co-operation between the two countries have been flourishing.
(2) China’s investment in Zambia has increasingly expanded in scale and depth. Up to now, China has invested over 1.26 billion US dollars in Zambia, 300 plus Chinese enterprises having widely invested in agriculture, mining, construction and telecommunication sectors, among others, creating more than 25,000 jobs. During the global financial crisis, following the principle of 3 “nos”, (namely no output reduction, no lay-offs and no investment cutting), the Chinese enterprises weathered through the hard time with Zambia while attaching great importance to social responsibilities by actively participating in the local community’s development. The economic and trade cooperation zone has been running smoothly with 13 enterprises having settled currently and the arrival of an accumulated investment of about 780 million US Dollars. It is expected to make 1.4 billion US dollars of sales and create over 4000 jobs for the locals. Moreover, the Lusaka section of the cooperation zone is under construction with a great promise.
(3) China has expanded aid to Zambia year by year and achieved remarkable success. Zambia is one of the main beneficiaries of China’s aid to Africa under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. Chinese aid to Zambia has increased year by year in the fields of infrastructure, agriculture, education, and heath, among others. The aid projects, such as the Endola Stadium, Lusaka Hospital, and Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center are running well and projects like the Government Complex, Lusaka Stadium, Mobile Hospital, among others, have achieved satisfactory results. The Chinese government has exempted 50% of the TAZARA railway debt, trained 210 Zambian professionals in different sectors and sent 28 medical doctors, 4 malaria-control experts and 3 agriculture specialists to Zambia for exchanges last year in total.
Chinaand Zambia’s economies are strongly complementary and the prospect of mutual benefit and cooperation is vast. Facts have proved that the more China-Zambia economic and trade cooperation develop, the closer the relationship between the two countries and the stronger the traditional friendship between the two peoples will become.
4. Forum on China-Africa Cooperation
Ambassador Li said, as an important platform and effective mechanism for sincere dialogue and pragmatic cooperation between China and Africa, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation plays an important role in leading the development of relationship between China and Zambia. It has become a bridge for and a banner of the deepening friendship and an important platform for strengthening the pragmatic cooperation. Since the Beijing Summit in 2006, the mutual political trust between China and Africa has been constantly enhanced, economic and trade cooperation increasingly deepened, cultural and educational exchanges developing vigorously, cooperative mechanism further improved, and a new phase of China-Africa cooperation emerged, having set up an example for South-South Cooperation. After the forth Session of the Ministerial Conference of the Forum in 2009, China has put forward eight new proposals that once again injected new vigor and energy into the mutual beneficial cooperation between the two sides.
Under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the Chinese government has exempted all the interest-free loans to Zambia matured by the end of 2009. The Granary Project using the Chinese government’s concessional loans has already been delivered to Zambia and other aid projects are going smoothly. Zambia is one of the main beneficiaries of the Forum. Based on the principle of mutual benefit, win-win outcome and common development, China will work together with Zambia to deepen mutual exchanges and cooperation in all fields and push the bilateral relations between the two countries onto a new stage.