China and Zambia on Friday elevated bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, with both sides hailing their "profound" traditional friendship.
The move came during Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema's seven-day state visit to China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Business is high on the agenda, as the African leader visited five companies in his first two days in China: the Yantian International Container Terminal, BYD, Huawei, Tencent and ZTE. He arrived in Beijing on Thursday.
During the two leaders' talk on Friday, Xi said that China stands ready to work with Zambia to transform the profound traditional friendship into a strong driving force for win-win cooperation in the new era and push bilateral relations to a new level.
Across the vast savanna between Tanzania and Zambia, the Tanzania-Zambia Railway is a symbol of true friendship and sincere assistance of the Chinese people toward the people of Africa.
Back in the 1960s, a time when many countries and international organizations declined to help Zambia, China provided an interest-free loan of 988 million yuan to support the railway project with no conditions attached. In addition, China sent a large amount of equipment and materials, as well as experts for the construction, management and maintenance of the railway and the training of local technicians.
To this day, the two sides have expanded their investment and trade ties in many sectors, with trade volume between the two countries reaching a record high of $6.73 billion in 2022, official data shows.
China hopes to jointly build the Belt and Road with Zambia and expand cooperation in infrastructure construction, agriculture, mining and clean energy to achieve common development and revitalization, Xi said during his meeting with Hichilema.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd R) and his wife Peng Liyuan (1st R) meet with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema (2nd L) and the country's First Lady Mutinta Hichilema (1st L) in Beijing, China, September 15, 2023. /Xinhua
Xi added that China encourages the introduction of more quality Zambian products to the Chinese market and supports more Chinese enterprises in investing in Zambia.
Voice of the Global South
China's development has bolstered the progress of countries in the Global South, increased their representation and voice in international affairs, and promoted the development of international order in a more just and rational direction, Hichilema said on Friday.
He also thanked China for supporting the African Union's entry into the G20.
Zambia cherishes the friendship forged by the older generations of leaders of the two countries, the president said.
The China-Zambia friendship dates back to the era when China actively supported the national liberation movement of southern Africa. On October 25, 1964, the second day of Zambia's independence, the two countries established diplomatic relations.
During his meeting with Hichilema, Xi stressed that the traditional friendship forged by the two countries' older generations of leaders has stood the test of the changing international landscape.
The Chinese president also urged the two countries to continue practicing genuine multilateralism, firmly uphold international fairness and justice, strive to increase the voice of developing countries, and safeguard the common interests of the two countries and other developing countries.