Zambian former and incumbent officials spoke highly of the relations between the country and China as Chinese President Hu Jintao is to start on Tuesday a tour of eight African nations, including Zambia, local media reported on Monday.
Former secretary general Grey Zulu of the former ruling United National Independent Party (UNIP) told Zambia Daily Mail in an interview at the weekend that "Zambia and China have enjoyed a good relationship with the latter helping Zambia in a number of programs and projects during the UNIP era and now."
The two countries have enjoyed a cordial relationship since the time the 1,860-km TAZARA (Tanzania-Zambia Railway) was constructed by China in 1970s, he said.
"After realizing that our country was landlocked, we thought that a railway into Tanzania would reduce dependence on the then Southern Rhodesia and South Africa routes when it came to exporting and importing goods," he said.
TAZARA, as one of the first notable collaborations between the Zambian and Chinese governments, became a political, economic and cultural center for people living along the railway in their respective localities, he said.
In addition, the railway also played a positive role in supporting the struggle for national liberation in southern Africa, he said.
Construction of the railway line that became a source of livelihood between Zambia and Tanzania through enhanced trade was not done in an exploitative manner, he said.
"The Chinese people are not imposing in their relationships with other countries especially those in Africa," Zulu said.
Incumbent Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Vernon Mwaanga told the newspaper that the bilateral cooperation dates way back.
"The relationship between Zambia and China has been good and growing with quality while at the same time building on mutual grounds," he said.
He cited investment ventures and other projects being implemented by China as some of the indicators of good cooperation between the two countries.
Mwaanga said the projects range from agricultural projects to assistance in various fields such as the public media and in the area of telecommunication.
Publicity and information chairperson Benny Tetamashimba of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) said that the Chinese government has assisted Zambia especially in its road infrastructure sector where a lot of roads countrywide are done by China.
Apart from the road infrastructure that China has tremendously improved in Zambia, several other investments across the country have been initiated by China, said the MMD official.
A close look into several relationships that China has had with Africa indicates that the Chinese government has long attached great importance to its relationship with Africa, and the promotion of friendship and cooperation, said the newspaper.
(Xinhua News Agency January 30, 2007)