China and Zambia on Friday reaffirmed their commitments to increase the vitality of their decades-old relationship.
Top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao met respectively with Zambian President Rupiah Banda, who was on his first state visit to Beijing since becoming president in 2008.
Zambia was the first southern African nation to forge diplomatic relations with China, Wen said. The two countries' diplomatic ties were established in October 1964.
With both peoples supporting each other in a friendly way, the China-Zambia relationship has become a paradigm for China-Africa friendship and cooperation, Wen said.
Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, said China cherished the traditional friendship with Zambia and would like to boost bilateral exchanges between parties, parliaments and governments.
The two countries should deepen practical cooperation in infrastructure, agriculture, mineral resources so as to get the most from the relationship, Wu said.
Banda appreciated China's long-term support and assistance to Zambia, describing a railway line connecting Tanzania and Zambia as the symbol of bilateral friendship.
The about-1,860-kilometer railway, one of the largest foreign-aid project undertaken by China, was financed and constructed by China in the 1970s. More than 60 Chinese died in constructing the railway.
After the outbreak of the global financial crisis, while other investors were pulling out and laying off employees, Chinese businesses, instead, continued to invest and operate in Zambia, a move that significantly improved the African country's confidence to overcome difficulties, Banda said.
Banda said his country would like to work more closely with China in trade, agriculture, mineral resources, infrastructure, health, among others.
Banda on Thursday held talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao before they witnessed the signing of a package of cooperation deals.
Banda's entourage included ministers of foreign affairs, finance, state planning, commerce, mineral resources, tourism, and environment.
Beijing was the first leg of Banda's nine-day China tour. He will also travel to south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region and economic powerhouse Guangdong.