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Sixty good reasons to mark enduring bond

China-Tanzania relationship has much potential for growth, says ambassador

By CHEN YINGQUN/LIU JIANQIAO | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-01-29 09:19

Khamis Omar. China Daily

The enduring friendship between China and Tanzania is growing stronger, and collaboration between the two benefits both and has great potential, says Tanzania's Ambassador to China, Khamis Omar.

The 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Tanzania is being celebrated this year, and the friendship between the two continues to grow increasingly robust, Omar said.

"China and Tanzania have a lot in common. In the past both had a common kind of quest to fight against colonialism and oppression and to lift people's human rights in a real sense. Now both sides share a common vision of advancing toward prosperity and have enjoyed a substantial and supportive relationship."

China supported Tanzania even when the former was relatively poor itself, he said. The most notable venture the two sides have been involved in is the 1,860-kilometer Tazara Railway, which links landlocked Zambia with the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, and which opened in 1976.

"It was the first regional project that happened in our region in Africa, so it was really appreciated because at that time China itself did not have much financial muscle," Omar said. "It was also a symbol of Chinese contribution to the liberation, freedom and independence of Africa."

China has played a substantial role in bolstering Tanzania's economy by supporting plantations and industrial facilities and by deploying technicians, which has been instrumental in initiating economic modernization. Moreover, since 1964 China has been sending medical teams to help Tanzania.

Over time China and Tanzania have expanded and strengthened their collaboration. Beyond aiding Tanzania in certain areas, both countries have worked together in many fields, promoting prosperity.

"China emphasizes mutual gains in its foreign cooperation and ensures that the other side also benefits," Omar said.

Largest trading partner

Last year China continued to be Tanzania's largest trading partner and biggest investor. The value of trade between January and November was $7.96 billion, a year-on-year increase of 6.8 percent, according to official figures. Chinese companies made investments worth more than $11 billion in Tanzania.

China, the world's second-largest economy, represents a vast market with immense possibilities for Tanzania, Omar said. The prospects for collaboration are substantial, particularly in areas such as agriculture, textiles and apparel, beverages, laser items, livestock and the maritime economy.

He is keen to see provinces in China and regions in Tanzania forge stronger connections and explore collaborative opportunities, he said.

Omar first came to China in 2005, and since then he has traveled extensively throughout the country, he said. He takes pleasure in exploring its impressive progress by visiting various places, particularly to gain insights into China's development and governance.

In Shenzhen, a model city for China's reform and opening-up, he discovered that the keys to its prosperity lie in being open, having a youthful work force, adopting innovative practices and policies that give priority to people, engaging in sustainable development and having robust manufacturing, he said.

"Socialism with Chinese characteristics is a different kind of governance that one has to know to unpack and try to understand the Chinese context. This is not one size fits all. It's very important to understand the context of Chinese development and Chinese civilization with different dynasties... I'm learning about it."

The Belt and Road Initiative has brought tremendous benefits to Africa over the past decade, he said. However, some countries have said the initiative is creating "debt traps", which is "propaganda targeted at China", Omar said.

"African countries need to borrow money during the process of economic development. It is important for the country that borrowed money to make sure that it spends wisely and prudently. China provides loans at preferential interest rates. What is wrong with China doing that?"

This year is the China-Tanzania Culture and Tourism Year, he said. Tanzania has more than 130 tribes with different kinds of cultures, music and social life, and it is endowed with rich tourism resources that he would like to tell Chinese people about this year.

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