Visit shows 'brotherly' ties
Updated: 2013-03-25 07:57
By Li Lianxing and Wu Jiao in Dar es Salaam and Li Xiaokun in Beijing (China Daily)
President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, wave as they alight from the plane in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam on Sunday. Thomas Mukoya / Reuters
President hails close relations with Tanzania as trade, cultural agreements signed
China and Tanzania signed trade and cultural exchange agreements on Sunday as President Xi Jinping arrived in the African country for a two-day visit.
It is the second leg of Xi's first overseas trip as president. The visit signifies Beijing's "brotherly" relations with Africa, experts said.
Xi met with Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete soon after his arrival in Dar es Salaam, the biggest city in Tanzania, on Sunday afternoon.
After talks, the leaders witnessed the signing of a number of documents, covering cooperation in areas such as trade and culture.
"My visit aims to consolidate the traditional friendship between China and Tanzania, plan future cooperation and push forward joint development," Xi said in a written statement issued at the airport.
Xi highlighted the close ties and their "all-weather friendship".
"In the nearly five decades since we established diplomatic relations, we have built up trust and constantly supported each other. Our political, economic and cultural cooperation has yielded fruitful achievements," he said.
China and Tanzania set up diplomatic ties in 1964. China supported Tanzania's liberation struggle and helped it construct major infrastructure projects.
In the 1970s, China sent experts, specialists and about 15,000 workers to build the strategic Tanzam Railway, also called Tazara. The project gave Zambia, and other landlocked countries, access to the ocean.
Xi is scheduled to visit the tomb of 69 Chinese experts and workers who died while building the railway.
Xi will also attend, with Kikwete, the handover ceremony for the Mwalimu Nyerere Conference Center in downtown Dar es Salaam. The landmark project was built with Chinese government loans.
On the eve of the visit, Xi told reporters from the BRICS countries that "China values friendly relations with all African countries, regardless of size or wealth".
"Whether it is a country that is resource rich or poor, China will treat it equally," he said.
Zhang Hongming, a researcher on African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the decision to select Tanzania as the first stop of Xi's African tour is "testimony to the traditional friendship", and the visit to the continent generally indicates the strong ties built over decades.
Kikwete said ahead of the visit that his country cherishes the relations as much as Beijing does.
"We are excited about the visit," he said.
"I wish that the great Chinese dream comes true," he told reporters in Chinese, referring to Xi's vision.
China is Tanzania's top trading partner, with $2.47 billion of goods last year, Chinese Ambassador Lu Youqing said on the eve of the visit.
Due to the sluggish global economy, Tanzania's exports generally have declined, but exports to China have maintained strong momentum, Lu said.
Charles Sanga, chairman of the Tanzanian Tourist Board, told the Guardian that Xi's visit to Tanzania represents what "China stands for: friendship, peace, stability, justice, equality and development".
He said China and Tanzania will reaffirm their longstanding relationship.
The paper quoted an opposition party leader as suggesting that Tanzania should also focus on industrial production.
Ibrahim Lipumba, chairman of the Civic United Front, said the cost of industrial production in China is increasing.
"It is important, therefore, that Tanzania should put in place its plans to increase employment opportunities for industrial production that moves from China," he said.
After Tanzania, Xi will visit South Africa, where he will also attend the 5th BRICS Summit, before flying to the Republic of Congo.
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(China Daily 03/25/2013 page1)