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Kwa Heri, Unforgettable Tanzania
——Interview with the Outgoing Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania H.E. Wang Ke
2021-06-06 01:07

The Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania H.E. Wang Ke will soon leave her post and go back to China. Before her departure, she gave an written interview to mainstream print media in Tanzania, in which she reviewed the major developments of Tanzania-China relations during her tenure, and looked to the future of the bilateral ties. Here is the full text of the interview.

1. We learnt that you will soon finish your tenure as the Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania. First of all, we would like to express our respect and appreciation to your outstanding contribution to the advancement of our bilateral relations. Could you brief us on the new developments of Tanzania-China relations during your tenure?

Amb. Wang Ke: The friendship between China and Tanzania has a long history, and to maintain the solidarity and friendship between our two countries is an important part of China’s diplomacy. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Tanzania in his first overseas visit after assuming presidency. It was during this visit that President Xi put forward the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith, and the principle of upholding justice while pursuing shared interests. These principles have become the guidelines for China to develop its relations with developing countries, which shows that China-Tanzania relations play an exemplary role in China-Africa cooperation.

I arrived in Tanzania in October 2017 and took up my new post as the 14th Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United Republic of Tanzania. Thanks to the personal guidance of our top leaders and the efforts made by both sides, the past three years and more have witnessed significant progress in many aspects of our bilateral relations, including political trust, economic and trade cooperation, people-to-people exchanges, etc.

Firstly, with frequent high-level visits, the mutual political trust has been enhanced. Last December, President Xi Jinping had a telephone conservation with the late President of Tanzania Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli. The two heads of state agreed that both China and Tanzania regard each other as a reliable friend and a comrade, thereby pointing out the direction for further development of China-Tanzania relations. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Tanzania this January scored positive results. During the past three years and more, Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, representing the then President John Pombe Magufuli, attended the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC); Speaker of the Tanzanian National Assembly Hon. Job Ndugai and several cabinet ministers visited China or attended such important international conferences hosted by China as the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation; Vice Chairmen of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee Hon. Cai Dafeng and Hon. Ji Bingxuan, Minister of International Department, Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Hon. Song Tao paid official visits to Tanzania. China and Tanzania have been supporting each other on issues relating to our core interests and major concerns. During Tanzania’s general election last year, China took a clear-cut stand in supporting Tanzania’s efforts to hold the election independently and peacefully. Tanzania has supported China’s efforts to safeguard its sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security on issues concerning Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Moreover, we grandly celebrated the 55th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations and the 55th anniversary of the signing of China-Tanzania Friendship Treaty, demonstrating our good will of writing a new chapter for our friendship in the new era.

Secondly, trade and economic exchanges are vibrant, and practical cooperation has borne rich fruits. In 2019, President Xi Jinping visited the Tanzania Pavilion in the opening ceremony of the 2nd China International Import Expo (CIIE), which manifested the great importance that the Chinese leadership attaches to the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Tanzania in the economic and trade fields. Currently, China is Tanzania’s largest trading partner and biggest source of foreign investment. In 2020, despite the global economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, China-Tanzania economic cooperation bucked the trend with growth. The bilateral trade volume in 2020 was US$4.587 billion, registering a 9.98% year-on-year growth. China’s non-financial direct investment in Tanzania reached US$159 million in 2020, which is 62.37% higher than that of 2019. Tanzania’s exports to China have become more diverse and the volume is increasing continuously. Last month, the first batch of Tanzanian soybean exports to China has arrived at China’s Qingdao port. Infrastructure development is an important area of China-Tanzania practical cooperation. The China-aided new University of Dar es Salaam Library is the biggest and best-equipped library in Africa. The Kijazi Interchange constructed by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is the first multi-span and multi-layer flyover in Tanzania. The acquisition of Maweni Limestone Ltd. by China’s Huaxin Cement Co., Ltd. is the largest investment made by a Chinese company in Tanzania. Chinese companies are also engaged in such strategic projects as Phase 5 of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) construction and the building of Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station. China-Tanzania cooperation has brought real benefits to our two peoples.

Thirdly, the people-to-people bond has been strengthened due to frequent exchanges. In the past three years and more, the Chinese Government provided scholarships and training opportunities to over 500 Tanzanian students and nearly 1,500 Tanzanian professionals respectively. Some special scholarships targeting certain groups of Tanzanians have also been set up, including the “Chinese Ambassador’s Scholarship”, the “Sino-Tanzania medical program of the Chinese Government Scholarship”, etc. At present, the number of Tanzanian students learning the Chinese language has increased to 17,000, and more than 5,000 Tanzanian students were studying in China before the outbreak of COVID-19. At the same time, more and more Chinese universities are setting up Swahili undergraduate courses. In 2019, over 30,000 Chinese tourists visited Tanzania, with Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and Zanzibar beaches as their favorite destinations. I believe the potential for cooperation between our two countries in the above sectors will be unlocked and fully realized after the COVID-19 pandemic.

What I want to stress here is that China and Tanzania jointly combating the pandemic speaks volumes for our rock-solid brotherhood. When China was fighting a uphill battle with the virus, President Magufuli wrote a letter to President Xi Jinping to express his and Tanzanian people’s sympathy and support to China. He told me in person that Tanzania stood firmly with China no matter in thick time or in thin time, and that Tanzania was ready to send its doctors to China to fight the virus together with their Chinese colleagues as long as China had such a need. Tanzanian friends from all walks of life sent us their condolences and good wishes, which touched my heart and impressed me a lot. At the same time, Chinese teachers took good care of Tanzanian students in China, in a way similar to caring for their own children. And as a result, no Tanzanian student was infected with the virus. When Tanzania was affected by COVID-19, China was the first country that offered assistance, including provision of medical supplies, sharing of diagnosis, treatment and control experience via video conferences, and full implementation of the G20 Debt Suspension Initiative.

2. In your opinion, what opportunities are we facing with in developing the comprehensive partnership between Tanzania and China? What are your expectations for the future of our bilateral relations?

This year is of special importance for both China and Tanzania. China will soon celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which surely will attract worldwide attention. Currently, China has accomplished the arduous task of eradicating absolute poverty, and embarked on a new journey of building a modern socialist country. In March this year, the new Tanzanian Government led by President Samia Suluhu Hassan was formed. Guided by the development objectives in the CCM Election Manifesto 2020-2025, the new Tanzanian Government is promoting the country’s economic and social development in an all-round way, focusing on the improvement of investment and business environments. Both China and Tanzania have entered a new development stage, bringing about new opportunities for the alignment of the two countries’ development strategies and broader space for the bilateral cooperation. Later this year, a new meeting of the FOCAC will be held in Senegal, which is supposed to adopt a series of new measures to support Africa’s development and deepen China-Africa cooperation.

I believe China and Tanzania will work together to further implement the consensus reached between our Presidents in their telephone conversation and the outcomes of Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Tanzania. We should take advantage of the new FOCAC meeting to yield more positive results to benefit our two peoples from the cooperation in such fields as trade, investment, agriculture, infrastructure, mining and healthcare.

3. As an envoy of friendship between Tanzania and China, you always have sincere and positive feelings for the Tanzanian government and people. To promote the development of our bilateral relations, you have travelled to many places in this country, forged profound friendship with people from various sectors, and made painstaking efforts. Upon your departure, what do you want to say to your Tanzanian friends?

During the past three years and more, I have been to many regions of this country, and fully enjoyed Tanzania’s long history, diverse culture, friendly people, beautiful scenery and rich resources. I visited plenty of projects in such fields as infrastructure, industry and mining, agriculture, education and healthcare. I made friends with many people, and participated in as well as witnessed the achievements of our bilateral cooperation in various areas. I have felt keenly the well-protected and long-lasting traditional friendship between our two countries and the huge potential of China-Tanzania cooperation.

I will never forget former presidents John Pombe Magufuli, Benjamin William Mkapa, ex-Minister of Constitutional and Legal Affairs Augustine Philip Mahiga and other Tanzanian officials. They have made great efforts and outstanding contributions to the development of China-Tanzania relations, which will forever stay in our memories. Scenes of my interactions with them still appear vividly before me, and I was greatly enlightened by their ideas and wisdom.

Since the formation of the new Tanzanian Government, I have met Hon. Amb. Liberata Mulamula, Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation for several times. I have also had in-depth exchanges with Minister for Investment Hon. Geoffrey Mwambe, Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports Hon. Innocent Bashungwa, Minister for Health Hon. Dr. Dorothy Gwajima, and Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs Hon. Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi. In particular, I am honoured to have the chance to bid farewell to Her Excellency President Samia Suluhu Hassan. All of them told me that they are committed to enhancing Tanzania-China cooperation in various fields. In view of that, I am fully confident of the bright future of our bilateral relations.

On 6 June, I will leave my post for China with reluctance. I would like to take this opportunity to say goodbye to beautiful Tanzania, and say “Kila la heri” to all Tanzanian friends. Looking back to the 1,000-odd days, all that I have experienced in Tanzania will become good and unforgettable memories of a lifetime. I want to thank all the Tanzanian friends who have lent support and assistance to the Chinese Embassy in Tanzania and to me personally. In the future, no matter where I am, I will regard Tanzania as my second homeland. I will continue to pay close attention to Tanzania’s development and contribute to the strengthening of China-Tanzania friendship and cooperation. Finally, I wish the Tanzanian people early realization of the objectives established in the CCM Election Manifesto 2020-2025 under the leadership of President Samia Suluhu Hassan, and wish China-Tanzania traditional friendship being passed on from generation to generation and lasting forever.

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