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China-Malawi Relations in the Perspective of China-Africa Relations
Keynote Speech by H.E. Ambassador Pan Hejun at the Religious Leaders Workshop of Malawi

2011-12-09

Hon. Rev. Billy Gama, Presidential Advisor on Religious Affairs,

Respected Religious Leaders of Malawi,

It is my great pleasure to attend the workshop today and make a few remarks. Before I start, I would like to thank Hon. Rev. Billy Gama for his kind invitation.

Since I arrived in Malawi last August, people have been asking me, “Why China is interested to develop the relations with Malawi?”, “Why China provides assistance to Malawi?”, “Are there any hidden agenda?” To answer these questions, I will start from the relations and cooperation between China and Africa as a whole.

Despite the far distance between China and Africa, the contacts between our two peoples have a very long history. Archaeological research discovered that the fleet of Chinese navigator Zheng He reached the coastal area of today’s Kenya in early 15th century, decades before the European explorers. What the Chinese fleet brought to Africa were porcelain, silk and many other goods. They were the envoys of friendship.

With the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 and the independence of African countries, the China-Africa relations ushered in a new era. In 1956, China established diplomatic relations with Egypt, the first country with which China started to develop diplomatic relations with Africa. By now, the number of African countries which have diplomatic relations with China has reached 50. At this stage, the two sides are working hand in hand to build a new type of strategic partnership, featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchange.

Different from the cooperation between Africa and developed countries, China-Africa cooperation is mutually support among developing countries and is a good example of South-South cooperation. China is the largest developing country in the world, while Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. From 1950s to 1970s, China provided strong assistance to African countries in their struggle for national independence and liberation. Although China itself was experiencing many difficulties at that time, we still built the 1800-kilometer Tanzania-Zambia railway for Africa. African countries also rendered valuable support to China. We Chinese people never forget that in 1972, it was the African brothers, together with other friendly countries helped China restore its seat in the United Nations.

Under the new circumstances, particularly after the founding of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000, the relations between China and Africa have been promoted to new stages. The all–round cooperation has been expanded both in depth and width. Politically mutual trust between China and Africa has been enhanced. The two sides have maintained close cooperation and coordination in international affairs.

In the fields of economic and social development, China has increased its assistance to Africa on a large scale. China pledged to adopt altogether 16 measures announced during the FOCAC Summit held in 2006 and the ministerial meeting in 2009 to participate in and assist economic and social development of African countries. These measures include building 20 agriculture technology demonstration centers, 30 hospitals, 150 schools and so on in Africa. All these projects have been completed or to be completed soon. In order to help Africa build up its financing capacity, we provide 10 billion US dollars concessional loans to Africa and set up a 1 billion US dollars special loan for small and medium-sized African businesses. This year, when the Horn of Africa was hit by severe drought, China donated food assistance with a value of over 70 million US dollars to the affected countries.

The trade and investment cooperation has shown a good development momentum. The two-way trade between China and Africa is expected to exceed 150 billion US dollars this year. The investment from China to Africa reached 13 billion US dollars by 2010.

China’s assistance to Africa is part of its international responsibility. As a responsible country and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the ultimate goal of China’s diplomacy is to build a world of lasting peace and common prosperity. A peaceful and stable Africa is vital to the peace of the world, and without the development of Africa, there will be no common prosperity. This is why China is working together with other members of the international community to help Africa achieve peace and development.

Respected Religious Leaders,

Due to historical reasons, China and Malawi had been isolated from each other for more than 40 years. The diplomatic relations between China and Malawi were established only four years ago, and are still at an initial stage.

We are here for friendship. We want to strengthen the mutual understanding between our two countries and let our two peoples know each other better. We have taken concrete actions to promote the people-to-people exchanges, including the exchanges in the religious circle of our two countries. In the future, we will continue to do so. I am very glad to inform you that next month, an art troupe of China of 29 people will visit Malawi, and we have invited the national football team of Malawi to visit China next year.

We are here to participate in your development. As a partner of Malawi, we wish to offer our limited assistance and support to you in your efforts to achieve national development and improve the living standard of Malawian people. We have indentified four priority areas of infrastructure, agriculture, education and public health in our cooperation with Malawi. We actively encourage Chinese companies to invest in Malawi, to create jobs for local people and make contributions to the economic development of Malawi. To expand Malawi’s export to China, we unilaterally provide a zero-tariff treatment to 65% items originally produced in Malawi. Next year, the figure will increase to 95%.

Equality and mutual respect are the principles guiding the development of China-Malawi relations. We fully respect other countries’ national sovereignty, and never impose our development path or political system on anybody. We think Malawi could find its own development path suitable to its national conditions. We do not interfere in the internal affairs and attach any political strings on our assistance to Malawi.

Respected Religious Leaders,

This year is the 4th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Malawi. Over the past four years, with concerted efforts from both sides, the relations have developed very fast. The mutual understanding and friendship have been deepened. The cooperation in all the sectors have yielded fruitful results and brought visible benefits to our two peoples.

In the days to come, the Embassy with continue to join hands together with all walks of life of Malawi including the religious leaders, to further promote the China-Malawi friendly relations.

With these remarks, I wish the workshop a success.

Thank you very much.

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