At the invitation of President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, I will pay a state visit to Zimbabwe on 1-2 December. I am very much looking forward to this first visit of mine to Zimbabwe.
Though I have not been to Zimbabwe, I am no stranger to this beautiful country and its people. Zimbabwe boasts a time-honoured history, splendid civilization, picturesque scenery and rich resources. And more importantly, the Zimbabwean people are hard working, creative, courageous and strong-willed.
The Zimbabwean people have all along been committed to upholding national independence and dignity and building a stronger African continent through unity. They have persevered in their endeavour despite the test of time and setbacks, just as the stone-carved Zimbabwe Bird at the ruins of Great Zimbabwe. In fact, it is headwind that makes birds fly even higher.
China and Zimbabwe, in spite of the vast distance between them, have maintained a traditional friendship that is deep and firm. During the national liberation struggle in Zimbabwe, the Chinese people steadfastly stood behind the Zimbabwean people as comrades in arms. I was touched to learn that many Zimbabwean freedom fighters who received training from the Chinese side both in China and at Nachingwea camp in Tanzania can still sing songs such as the “Three Rules of Discipline and the Eight Points for Attention”.
It was on the very day that Zimbabwe gained independence, 18 April 1980, that our two countries established diplomatic relations. Over the past 35 years, our two peoples have stood with each other rain or shine, and enjoyed strong friendship and fruitful cooperation. In August last year, President Mugabe paid a successful state visit to China. The two sides agreed to be good partners, good friends and good brothers who treat each other as equals and support each other for win-win cooperation and common development. This agreement has provided a vital guidance for the growth of China-Zimbabwe relations.
China is now Zimbabwe’s fourth largest trading partner and the biggest source of investment. Projects funded and undertaken by China, such as the expansion of the Victoria Falls Airport and Kariba South Hydro-power Station and telecom transformation of TelOne, will give a strong boost to infrastructure development in Zimbabwe.
China-Zimbabwe friendship has also taken root and sprouted in the heart of our two peoples. I know there is a Chinese mothers’ group in Zimbabwe called “Love of Africa”, and a “Father Cheng” from China who is so close with the local community that even his car plate number is remembered by the kids there. Over the years, they have brought care and warmth to local orphans. Such concrete actions are manifestations of China-Zimbabwe friendship of the current generation and sow the seeds of friendship for future generations.
During his visit to China last year, President Mugabe gave the Chinese people a pair of lion cubs on behalf of the Zimbabwean people. They are now living in the Shanghai Wild Animal Park. They have been named “Jin Jin” and “Fei Fei”, which sound the same as the first Chinese characters for Zimbabwe and Africa and symbolize China’s friendship with Zimbabwe and Africa. As messengers of China-Zimbabwe friendship, the two cubs are very popular with the Chinese people, especially kids.
The extraordinary development of China-Zimbabwe relations shows that our friendship is rooted in the cultural tradition of our two countries that values sincerity and friendship, in the basic principles of independence and mutual respect that we both adhere to in conducting foreign relations, and in the common mission of our two countries to grow the economy and improve people’s livelihood.
Despite the constant profound and complex changes in the international landscape, it remains a cornerstone of China’s foreign policy to consolidate China’s relations with Zimbabwe and other African nations.
This will never change. In conducting China’s relations with Africa, we adhere to the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests. We will work with Zimbabwe and all other friendly African nations to pave a broader and more solid road of mutual benefit and common development for China and Africa.
The Chinese people are striving to achieve our “two centenary goals” and realize the Chinese dream of great national renewal, while Zimbabwe is making vigorous efforts to promote the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation and achieve economic independence and self-reliant sustainable development.
I look forward to having in-depth exchanges of views with President Mugabe and friends from all sectors of Zimbabwe during my visit, with the aim of enhancing friendship between our two countries, exploring new opportunities for cooperation in all areas and delivering more benefits to our two peoples.
l We need to continue to understand and support each other on issues involving our core interests and major concerns. China firmly supports Zimbabwe’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests and its choice of the development path that suits its national conditions.
l We need to synergise our development strategies, translate our economic complementaries into more tangible outcomes of cooperation, carry out more exchanges on guidelines of development and take our practical cooperation to a new level.
l We need to strengthen our cultural and people-to-people exchanges, enhance cooperation in such areas as education, culture, health, tourism, youth, think-tanks and media, consolidate the public support and social basis for China-Zimbabwe friendship, and carry this friendship forward to future generations.
l We need to enhance our collaboration in international arena and uphold the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. China values the important contribution to the solidarity and development of Africa that Zimbabwe has made after assuming the rotating chairmanship of the African Union.
Following my visit to Zimbabwe, President Mugabe and I will attend the Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, South Africa. This will be the second Summit in the 15-year history of FOCAC, and the first China-Africa summit on the African continent.
As one Zimbabwe idiom goes, “chikuni chimwe hachikodzi sadza”, Chinese people also believe that “when everybody adds firewood, the flames will rise high.”
I look forward to joining African leaders at the FOCAC Summit and working with them to advance our friendship and cooperation, lift China-Africa solidarity to a new high and build a better future for China-Africa friendship and cooperation.
Harare in November is decorated by full-blown red flamboyant blossoms. They give us enthusiasm, hope and strength. I am convinced that with the dedicated cultivation of the Chinese and Zimbabwean peoples, the flower of China-Zimbabwe friendship will bloom with even brighter splendour.