Guinea-Bissau's new President Malam Bacai Sanha highly evaluates the traditional ties between the West African country and China, hoping for further enhancement of bilateral relations in the future.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, the president said on Friday, "Everybody knows very well our relationship with China. It's a relationship that dates back to the 1960s and which has gone on until today."
"China was the first country that helped in our liberation struggle. She helped formulate our first structure, particularly when Amical Cabral was there. And after that, there was a group of young Chinese people who spent months sensitizing the population on the liberation struggle," said the president.
"There were some moments of misunderstanding after the liberation war which was followed by independence. But it can be said that China has always been side by side with the people of Guinea-Bissau and that she has always helped our country," the president added.
Sanha hailed the great achievements China has gained in the economy, science and technology, as well as China's increased support to Africa.
"We are going to work to reinforce our relationship with China. In fact yesterday, I had a meeting with Yan Banghua, the Chinese ambassador to Guinea-Bissau. We talked much about the cooperation. I think that today, it is important for Guinea-Bissau to have as her first partner, the People's Republic of China, in order to preserve our friendship," the president told Xinhua.
"For me, China occupies the first place and one of my priorities is to reinforce cooperation with her. This can lead to development in favor of Guinea-Bissau," Sanha said.
The president expressed satisfaction with the current cooperation with China. "My perspective of the cooperation is that it is very good. There are so many projects here, particularly in the agricultural sector," the president said, citing a big project in Karantaba in the Gabu region, 200 km from the capital Bissau.
"A lot of Chinese expertise is syncretized all over the country. We also see a big project in the health sector. The big regional hospital in Kangngoukou, which was constructed in the framework of cooperation with China," the president added.
"The government building in Bissau and the military hospital are under construction. There are quite a number of projects that are in progress, like the Court House," he said.
"All that is under the framework of our cooperation. I think that we are going to continue in the same manner and we are going to diversify, intensify and deepen our relationship with China. As I have already said, China is going to be our first priority in our international cooperation," he noted.
The president gives priority to the development of his country's agriculture, hoping to share China's experience in boosting the sector.
"In the first place, in the agricultural sector," he told Xinhua.
"We are an agricultural country.We therefore need the help and experience of other people, notably the Chinese who now have very advanced technology.We need to develop our country for the resumption of our economy," the president said.
He is also looking forward to enhanced cooperation in the health sector. "China has great experience, particularly in the area of public health. We are going to take advantage of this cooperation so that we can succeed in this area."
The president expects to visit China soon to further bilateral ties. "Myself I think that in some few months, I will make an official visit to China so that we can consolidate our relations," he said.
The Chinese ambassador "told me that the deputy foreign affairs minister of China will be in Bissau on Sept. 20. And during his stay here, we are going to discuss a lot about my visit to China and sign the Sino-Guinea Bissau agreement," he disclosed.
On the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, Sanha conveyed a message of warm congratulation.
"The people of China are truly heroic. They are outstanding in the history of mankind......In the 1980s, I met with a Chinese delegation, when I was the governor of Gabu region, 204 km from Bissau. I spoke to them about the famine and the lack of food. The delegation asked me how many people there were in Guinea-Bissau and at that time, there were about 800,000 to 900,000 inhabitants. "
"The delegation told me that China had a population of One billion people who needed to eat a lot of grain. Just imagine, a billion people! If half of the people, each of them a kg of rice a day, you must have worked hard," said the president.
"That's why I salute the Chinese people.They are courageous people, hard working and determined to develop their country. I wish them all the best in the future," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency September 13, 2009)