By Foreign Policy and Economic Research Correspondent
Zambian diplomacy has been very “busy” in recent times. Following the visit of the US Secretary of the Treasury, Ms
Yellen, in January, another distinguished lady, US Vice President Harris, will be welcomed at the end of this month.
At the same time, the African Chapter of the International Democracy Summit will be held in Lusaka, one of only four in
As a Zambian citizen, I am happy to see Zambia actively engaging in diplomatic activities and expanding its internationalspace. However, I also have a vague feeling that Zambia may become a battleground between the US and China in Africa.
This is both an opportunity and a challenge for us. We should plan our policies well in advance, grasp the development opportunities in the midst and avoid possible disadvantages. This will enable us to better develop our economy and benefit ordinary people.
From the perspective of historical tradition and practical interests, I believe that actively consolidating and developing
good relations with China should be a priority for our country Zambia and China have a long history of friendship.
China has actively supported liberation movements in southern Africa and was one of the first countries to recognise Zambia’s independence. The late former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda once commented that “Zambia and China are all-weather friends”. In a turbulent international environment, the two sides have adhered to the diplomatic policy of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and have enjoyed decades of friendly cooperation.
Many years ago, the Tanzania-Zambia rail line, built with Chinese aid, made a significant contribution to Zambia’s
economic development and remains an important economic pipeline.
In recent years, projects such as the Kafue Lower Gorge Power Station and the new terminal building at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport are the latest achievements of cooperation. We should attach great importance to Zambian-Chinese relations and expand the scale of cooperation for the benefit of both peoples.
China is an important economic partner for our country. According to publicly available data, China has attracted a
cumulative direct investment of more than US$3 billion from Chinese enterprises, ranking second in Africa after Kenya.
As both developing countries, Zambia and China have greater economic complementarities than developed countries.
As we all know, China has a very strong infrastructure development capacity, covering railways, highways, water resources, power facilities and other important infrastructure related to national economic development, which China urgently needs to develop.
China has a very strong and diverse industrial manufacturing capacity and a huge demand for mineral resources such as copper. We should strengthen our trade with China and focus on attracting Chinese investment to continuously improve our industry and boost employment. In contrast, other developed countries, although with more powerful technology and capital, their domestic basic industrial manufacturing capacity is actually not strong and there is even a
serious “industrial hollowing out”.
Their domestic infrastructure construction is also relatively backward, with almost no benefit to enhance the level of our industrial capacity. Moreover, much of the Western aid often comes with extremely harsh conditions that are not conducive to Zambia’s long-term development. Zambia and China are both peace-loving countries.
Both countries pursue a foreign policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and non-alignment, and each has significant influence in the affairs of their respective regions.
During the national liberation movements in Africa in the 1960s, Zambia provided tremendous political solidarity and strong economic support to the national liberation struggles of many countries, and won the respect of countries in southern Africa. As Zambia’s national independence, stability and peace have not come easily, our country should continue to follow the path of peaceful development and strengthen our friendly relations with peace-loving countries such as China.
In this way, we can better establish a good international image for our country and continue to win the respect and trust of neighbouring countries. As the struggle among major powers in the world becomes increasingly intense, Zambia is faced with the very urgent task of economic and social development.
The most crucial thing is that we should keep to our basic approach and bottom line, to adhere to peaceful development and non-alignment. On this basis, we should actively expand cooperation with friendly countries and strive for economic development. For the time being, developing good relations with China is a good choice for us and should be our priority policy.