|Chinese Ambassador H.E. Liu Hongyang's Article "China-Malawi Comprehensive Cooperation and Long-standing Friendship" Published on Daily Times|
On 28 May 2020, an article titled “China-Malawi Comprehensive Cooperation and Long-standing Friendship” by H.E. Liu Hongyang, the Chinese Ambassador to Malawi, was published on Daily Times, one of Malawi’s leading newspaper. Following is the full text of the article:
The year 2020 marks the 13th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Malawi. The past 12 years have witnessed healthy and rapid development of China-Malawi relations. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations on December 28, 2007, the political trust between the two countries has been continuously deepened, economic and trade cooperation has steadily progressed, people-to-people and cultural exchanges have become increasingly active, bilateral cooperation has blossomed, and the friendship has been even deeper and vigorous. China welcomes all African countries, including Malawi, to take the express train of China's economic development, and is willing to share China's development opportunities with Malawi and contributes more Chinese power to Malawi's early realization of independent and rapid development.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China has made great contributions to the economic and social development of Malawi, which has been widely recognized by the Malawian government and the majority of Malawian people. However, I have noticed in the social media recently that a few people view that “ It seems that Malawi is being colonized gradually with foreign loans , and the investment from China only focuses on big infrastructure projects like stadiums instead of hospitals or schools”. As a matter of fact, the exchanges and cooperation between China and Malawi cover areas like politics, economy and trade, education and livelihood. According to the data from the Malawian Government, more than 70% of the foreign debts in Malawi are from International Development Association, African Development Fund, International Monetary Fund and other multilateral institutions, in which the Chinese loans accounting for only 10%. And these loans are mainly concessional loans which do not constitute a heavy burden to Malawi’s debt. The real purpose of some countries inciting the so-called "Chinese debt trap" and "new colonialism" is merely seeking to achieve certain ulterior political ends. There is an old Chinese saying that “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and he feeds himself for a lifetime”. Indeed, China's aid to Africa has never attached any political conditions. It has focused more on helping the recipient countries to improve the productive capacity to achieve national self-reliance.
We always say “Actions speak louder than words” and we do more but say less, which may make some Malawians know less about China-Malawi relations and the bilateral cooperation, and a small number of people even have certain bias. The misunderstanding and bias of the few does not represent the views of the most, let alone the truth. Therefore, I would like to introduce our bilateral cooperation in detail through this article to open a window for Malawian people to understand the truth of the China-Malawi relations.
1. Political Relations
One of the principles of China’s diplomacy is to boost the traditional friendship between China and African countries. China and Africa announced the establishment of "A new, stable and long-term partnership featuring equality and mutual benefit" at the first ministerial meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in 2000. As a tradition, Chinese Foreign Ministers have for the past 30 years chosen Africa as their first destinations of visit. During his first visit to Africa in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the Principles of Sincerity, Practical Results, Affinity and Good Faith to develop China-Africa friendship and foster a relationship of shared interest. He solemnly announced that China will always be a reliable friend and sincere partner of African countries. In the past 12 years, The Chinese Foreign Minister and Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China have visited Malawi. Meanwhile, the then Speaker of Parliament of Malawi visited China many times. The late President of Malawi, H.E. Bingu Mutharika paid a state visit to China in March 2008. The current President of Malawi H.E. Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika also visited China to attend the 9th Summer Davos Forum in September 2015 and the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2018. We can see that the two countries have continuously strengthened their understanding and deepened mutual trust through political exchanges in recent years.
2. Economic and Trade Cooperation
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China-Malawi economic and trade cooperation has developed rapidly and achieved fruitful results. The Malawi Parliament Building, the Karonga-Chitipa Road, which were donated by the Government of China, and the Bingu International Convention Center, and the Bingu National Stadium, which were funded and built by China, have been completed and handed over to be operated by Malawi, greatly improving the level of infrastructure. The completion of the first phase of the national fiber backbone network, funded and constructed by China, has played a crucial role in the upgrading of Malawi's basic ICT capacity, thanks to China's 4G network technology. China-Aid China-Malawi Agricultural Technical Cooperation Farm in Lilongwe, Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center in Salima and other projects contribute to improving local crop yields, training high-quality agricultural technicians, and effectively promoting the development of agricultural economy in Malawi, especially the development of the cotton industry. Under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, China has been granting duty-free treatment to most of Malawian products exported to China since July 2008, and now 97% of Malawian product categories can be exported to China with zero tariff.
At the same time, the Chinese enterprises in Malawi have employed a large number of local employees and given them management and technical guidance. This will not only help solve the employment problems of Malawi, but also enable local employees to learn more knowledge and skills. Chinese enterprises in Malawi have employed more than 5,000 local employees, and other Chinese merchants who run factories and shops in Malawi also employ a large number of local employees.
3. Social Development
In order to help Malawi to cope with natural disasters and food crises, the Chinese government has donated 15,880 tons of rice to Malawi since 2016 which benefits more than one million people and has greatly alleviated the food shortage in Malawi. At the beginning of last year, the donation of $ 300,000 and food aid from the Chinese government to the Malawian side to respond to the tropical cyclones “IDAI” arrived immediately. The Chinese government has completed satellite TV projects in 500 villages, drilled more than 1,000 boreholes, and sent 126 medical team members in 7 batches to work at Kamuzu Central Hospital and Mzuzu Central Hospital to protect the life and health of Malawian people with professional medical technology. At present, the China-aid CT machine room project in Mzuzu Central Hospital, and the Malawian disaster recovery project implemented jointly with UNICEF and UNDP are underway. What’s more, the Chinese government, the NGOs of China, and the Chinese community in Malawi have already donated plenty of medical supplies to Malawi for fighting against COVID-19, including 240,000 masks, more than 40,000 test kits, 6400 sets of protective suits and face shields, 5 ventilators, 18,500 gloves and 375 thermometers. China also invited Malawi to participate in the China-Africa anti-COVID-19 video conferences to share the experience.
4. Education and Culture Exchanges
The exchange in education and culture between China and Malawi are also deepening. In the past few years, China-aid universities and schools have been built one after another, such as Malawi University of Science and Technology, China-Malawi Friendship Primary School and Thyolo Middle School. The project of five community colleges throughout the country is also proceeding in an orderly manner. In addition, China provides around 100 full scholarships and 500 short-term training opportunities to all Malawian people each year, which makes China one of the biggest contributors to the human resources development in Malawi. In 2016, the Confucius Institute at the University of Malawi (UNIMA) was inaugurated after which Malawians in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mzuzu, Zomba, Kasungu and other places can learn Chinese for free to improve language skills and to help their career development. The Malawian delegation went to China to participate in the Chinese Language Proficiency Competition for Foreign Secondary School Students and won Championship in the team competition of African region in 2015 and 2016.
Malawi is a beautiful country with great development potentials brought by a large youth population. Along with the implementation of the “Belt and Road”initiative and the implementation of the outcomes of Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, more and more China-Malawi cooperation projects will take root in Malawi. I believe that with the joint efforts of all sides, the "Warm Heart of Africa" will one day become the "Development Hub of Africa" . By then people are happy and healthy, and the country is more prosperous and stronger. China is willing to work with Malawi to jointly promote the second golden decade of China-Malawi relations to better benefit the people of the two countries.