Guo Shaochun Chinese Ambassador
Since 1840, the Chinese nation has gone through untold sufferings and humiliations. It is only with the leadership of the Communist Party of China which led the Chinese people in making great sacrifices, forging ahead against all odds that the People’s Republic of China was finally founded on October 1, 1949, which was solemnly announced by Chairman Mao.
Since then, 70 years have passed and a glorious and spectacular new chapter has been written in the history of the Chinese nation. Extraordinary achievements have been made over the past 70 years.
For seventy years, an economic miracle was achieved. In 1949, China’s GDP was only $30 billion, last year it was more than $13,6 trillion, a 450 times increase. China is now the world’s second largest economy, largest trading nation in goods, biggest holder of foreign exchange reserves and top producer of more than 200 products.
It contributes about 30 percent of the world growth annually on average in recent years, powering the global economy.
For seventy years, leaps and bounds were gained in science and technology. China’s spacecraft has successfully landed on the far side of the moon. China’s largest 168-passenger jetliner has successfully completed key tests on its engines, marking the final stage of its testing phase.
Modern information technologies, such as 5G communication, big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence are thriving in China.
For seventy years, significant progress were made in improvements of people’s livelihood. From 1949 to 2018, China’s per capita gross national income increased from $70 to $9 470, a 135 times increase. Some 800 million people were lifted out of poverty, accounting for 70 percent of the world’s total in the same period. Average life expectancy rose from 35 to 77.
The biggest old-age pension insurance system and the biggest basic health insurance system in the world have been established. A nine-year free and compulsory education system is in place. Based on 70 years of development, China now is standing at a new historic point. Since 2012, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with President Xi Jinping at its core, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. China is closer than ever to realising the Chinese dream and goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
What is the logic for great success of China over the past 70 years? It could be attributed to its unique development path that suits China’s own national conditions. This path is known as socialism with Chinese characteristics. It has the following core features.
First, leadership of the Party. Along the way, the Communist Party of China has stumbles, falls and even wrong turns, but it has the courage to admit mistakes, make corrections and continue to seek truth. It has kept renewing itself in order to stay abreast with the times.
These qualities have enabled the Communist Party of China to lead the Chinese people in overcoming difficulties and achieving one success after another.
Second, adherence to people-centred approach. President Xi Jinping said, “The aspirations of the people to live a better life must always be the focus of our efforts.” The well-being of the people is the ultimate goal of all our work to achieve development. So the party gets the support of all the people.
Thirdly, join hands with the world for lasting peace and common prosperity. Based on the principle of joint consultation, construction and sharing, President Xi Jinping put forward major initiatives including a new type of international relations, the Belt and Road Initiative, and building a community with a shared future for mankind, the purpose of which is to pursue win-win cooperation for common development.
Under this context, China has developed close cooperation with all the countries around the world.
Our achievements are the results of hard work of several generations of our people. At the same time I also want to reiterate that without the assistance and cooperation from friendly countries including Zimbabwe and all the friends present here, it will be much harder.
We cannot forget it is the African countries that support China back to the UN. We cannot forget it is the African countries that came to visit China when we were sanctioned at the beginning of 1990s. We cannot forget it is the African countries that voted for Chinese candidates in many international organisations.
I would like to take this opportunity to express sincere appreciation to you all. China’s future development is like the flowing of gallant Zambezi River, no one and no country can hold it back. What does China’s development mean to the world and African countries in particular? It means peace.
China has been making great contributions to world peace. Since 1990, China has sent around 40 000 military personnel on peacekeeping missions with 13 Chinese peacekeepers sacrificing their lives for this noble cause.
Today China is the biggest contributor among the UN Security Council permanent members to UN peacekeeping missions and the second largest contributor to the UN regular budget.
It means development.
China welcomes developing countries including Zimbabwe to board the high-speed train of its development and share its dividends. In the coming decade China will import $24 trillion worth of goods and will invest $750 billion in foreign countries.
The platforms such as FOCAC and BRI have been set up and more than 160 countries and organisations have joined the cooperation framework. Zimbabwe last year signed the MOU on BRI cooperation with China.
China and Africa enjoy a time-honoured friendship. Ever since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese and African peoples have supported and cooperated with each other in our respective endeavours to fight against colonialism and imperialism and win independence and liberation, and in the pursuit of development and national renewal.
Today, China-Africa relations have come a long way. Going forward, we will continue to treat our African friends with sincerity, seek to deliver real outcomes in conducting cooperation with Africa, continue to build a close bond of friendship with Africa and resolve problems that may occur in our cooperation with good faith.
I would like to particularly reiterate the five — “no” — approach we apply in engaging with African countries, which was elaborated by President Xi at the 2018 Beijing Summit of FOCAC, that is: no interference in African countries’ pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions; no interference in African countries’ internal affairs; no imposition of our will on African countries; no attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation with Africa.
This five — “no” — approach shows the respect for Africa and we will always take Africa’s interests into consideration and never pursue a “China first” policy. Next year we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Zimbabwe’s independence and the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Zimbabwe. During the past nearly four decades, China and Zimbabwe enjoyed rock-solid political trust.
China strongly supported Zimbabwe’s struggle for national liberation against colonialism and racism. After Zimbabwe’s independence, we continue supporting Zimbabwe standing up to bullies by foreign powers, with the highlight being that China vetoed the proposed resolution to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council in 2008, which is the first and only time that China has exercised its veto at the Security Council for an African country.
In the meantime, Zimbabwe has done what it can to uphold the “One-China” principle and render China valuable support on a number of issues that concern China’s core interest and major concerns.
Last year, when H.E. President ED Mnangagwa paid a historic State visit to China, he agreed with President Xi Jinping to elevate our bilateral relationship to the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation, which ushered in a new era for China-Zimbabwe relationship and deepened strategic trust between our two countries.
During the past nearly four decades, China and Zimbabwe developed pragmatic cooperation with rich achievements in multiple forms, including aid, trade, investment, financing, and in wide range of areas such as infrastructure, industry, agriculture and mining.
Our practical cooperation was marked by a series of mega projects like the Victoria Falls International Airport expansion, the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport expansion, the Kariba-South power plant expansion, the Hwange Thermal Power station expansion and the New Parliament Building Project.
These projects are a vivid reflection of our commitments to Zimbabwe, and the high importance we attach to Zimbabwe.
As new batches of its aid to Zimbabwe this year, the Government of China has recently decided to provide aid totalling $13 million from South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund to WFP, UNDP and UNICEF for providing emergency food assistance in Zimbabwe, repairing housing units, schools and clinics in the areas affected by Cyclone Idai, and providing living materials and health protection for women and children of the country.
A friend in need is a friend indeed. Earlier this year, right after the Cyclone Idai, China swiftly provided to Zimbabwe $800 000 in cash for emergency humanitarian assistance. The food aid provided through bilateral channels just for this year — the donation of 10165 tonnes of rice, and the free aid of drilling of 500 boreholes are being implemented. In the past few years, China has completed another 500 boreholes in Zimbabwe as free aid. Another important aid of China not long ago is that at the coordinators’ meeting of FOCAC at the end of June this year, China decided to provide a new grant to Zimbabwe to help the country complete post-cyclone reconstruction and other important projects.
Over the years, Chinese investment keeps increasing to Zimbabwe. The Tianze tobacco company, a joint venture between China and Zimbabwe established in 2005, has now become the single biggest buyer that offers the highest price for Zimbabwe’s golden leaf, with the purchasing value accounting for half of Zimbabwe’s total tobacco revenue. It is fairly stated that Chinese investment contributed significantly to the recovery of the tobacco industry, which hit a record high in output quantity in recent years.
Chinese businessmen invested in automobile assembly plant, tile factory, solar power plants, etc, employ tens of thousands of local people and generate big amount of tax revenue and increase export earnings for Zimbabwe.
During the past nearly four decades, China and Zimbabwe maintained active people-to-people exchanges, with expansion of cooperation in education, culture and health as well as the interactions between non-governmental organisations, think-tanks and media, deepening the mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples. Each year the Chinese government and company provides hundreds of government scholarships and training opportunities for Zimbabwean students and professional to study or improve in China. We have sent 17 batches of medical doctors to Zimbabwe since 1985. Now ten doctors are based in the Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare and each year they perform 500 surgical operations on average and treat hundreds of thousands of patients of Zimbabwe.
When looking back the past 39 years, there are three main reasons that can be summarised for the great achievement in China-Zimbabwe relations. First, both China and Zimbabwe take bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective and are guided by the vision and leadership of our two leaders.
Second, both China and Zimbabwe insist on mutual respect and equal treatment by regarding the other as an equal partner and a reliable friend.
Third, both China and Zimbabwe insist on win-win outcome and common development. We have never imposed one’s unilateral will on the other.
These are the precious experiences of the development of China-Zimbabwe relations over the past four decades and they will continue to serve as the fundamental principles to create a brighter future for China-Zimbabwe relations.
At this special and auspicious occasion, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank and salute the Chinese community in Zimbabwe. Over the years, they have taken Zimbabwe as their second homeland and joined Zimbabwean people in braving the difficulties and promoting economic and social development. They build schools, care for the weak, the sick, the orphaned and other vulnerable groups. They laugh and weep together with Zimbabweans. They have contributed significantly to the development of China-Zimbabwe relations.
I hope the Chinese people in Zimbabwe continue their fine traditions of abiding by Zimbabwean laws and regulations, living side by side and in harmony with Zimbabwe people, shoulder their due social responsibilities, give back to the Zimbabwean society and make even greater contributions to the growth of China-Zimbabwe ever-lasting friendship!
This is an abridged version of a speech delivered by Ambassador Guo on the occasion of the 70th celebrations of China’s founding.