SO, Zambia and China have designated 2024 as the Year of Business Cooperation! This is in line with the observance of 2024 as the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between the two friendly countries.
It was one of the agreements between the leaders from the two countries when President Hakainde Hichilema visited that country at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping last week.
The commemoration which is planned to spur economic diplomacy between the two countries is expected to culminate into President Xi’s visit to Zambia in 2024, following Mr Hichilema’s invitation.
Now, last week we looked at President Hakainde Hichilema’s visit to China.
I stated that one of the biggest lessons any citizen of a developing country like Zambia can draw from China is how the government managed to lift its people above the poverty datum line.
I connected that to my own experience and lessons during my visit in 2019 to that country where we learnt on the progress the government had made to eradicate absolute poverty among its citizens.
As I indicated then, using the governance system popularly referred to by leaders and nationals as, ‘democratic dictatorship’ China rescued its citizens from poverty and its offshoots.
The humongous and now second most populous country on earth transformed itself from a developing country, into an economic power engine.
This was, such that, according to Chinese media, through continuous efforts, the final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents had all been lifted out of poverty, and all 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 villages had been removed from the poverty list by the end of 2020.
Significantly, during President Hichilema’s visit to China, the two leaders decided to upgrade the bilateral relationship between the two countries to Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership.
This was remarkable!
As part of the upgrade, the two governments agreed to take their bilateral ties to a higher level on about 32 points, but I will only delve the economic-related ones, for obvious reasons.
Based on the Memorandum of Understanding between China and Zambia on cooperation within the framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative signed in 2018, the two sides elected to deepen high-quality cooperation under the Belt and
Road Initiative (BRI).
Known within China as the One Belt One Road, this is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in more than 150 countries and international organisations.
The countries include Zambia.
This will promote practical cooperation in related areas to achieve more fruitful results, and jointly safeguard the safety of cooperation projects and people of both sides.
Similarly, the two sides will establish a green development strategic partnership and enhance cooperation on environmental protection, combating climate change, green economy, and emergency risk response mechanism, among others.
The two sides will deepen mutually beneficial cooperation on renewable energy like photovoltaic power, and electric vehicle industries to promote energy transition and ensure energy security.
Zambia has already partnered with the Democratic Republic of Congo on the electric vehicle batteries project to be based in Ndola.
Further, the two sides will enhance mutually beneficial cooperation in mineral exploration and mining and industries aimed at value addition.
This is expected to boost Zambia’s mining industry.
Greatly important to Zambia, at its request, the Chinese side is ready to support the upgrading and renovation of the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA), which I consider to be the epitome of friendship among Zambia, China and Tanzania.
The two sides welcomed the participation of Chinese businesses in infrastructure development in Zambia through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and other models.
The Zambian side appreciated the Global Development Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping, which has steered countries to put development back to the core of the international agenda and accelerated the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Chinese side appreciated Zambia’s visa-free policy for Chinese tourists.
This is expected to grow the number of tourists’ arrivals per year, what with China’s listing of Zambia as the second batch of pilot countries for outbound group tours by Chinese travel agencies.
Related to and to enhance that, Zambia and China look forward to the opening of direct airline flight routes between the two countries to further facilitate tourisms and exchange programmes.
To enhance and ease trade between them, the two countries encouraged greater use of national currencies, like the Kwacha, in trade and investment, and help businesses of both countries reduce costs of currency exchange and lower exchange rate risks.
The two sides will also create a favourable policy environment for promoting business settlements in local currencies and support a greater role of the Chinese Renminbi (RMB) settlement bank in Zambia.
To ensure that the perennial issue of Mulungushi Textiles does not miss out, President Hichilema and President Xi recognised that a redeveloped Mulungushi Textiles factory with modern efficient technology will align with the Zambian Government’s development strategy.
This is on industrialisation and promotion of agro-processing and value-added exports to China, which also creates jobs and alleviates poverty, especially among the rural communities engaged in cotton growing.
Mentioning poverty, it is hoped that when all is said and done, these programmes will help reduce the poverty levels among Zambians and completely lift some of them above the poverty datum-line. For comments: 0977 246099, 0955 431442 or e-mail: jmuyanwa@gmail. com