Lusaka, 31 May 2022
Your Excellency Mr. President Hakainde Hichilema,
Honorable Ministers and Members of Parliament,
Permanent Secretaries and Senior Government Officials,
Friends from the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great honour to attend the commissioning ceremony of the Kenneth Kaunda Wing of the Mulungushi International Conference Centre. I’d like to extend my sincere congratulations on the completion of this project, and express my heartfelt gratitude to the Chinese and Zambian governments, China Jiangsu International Economic and Technical Cooperation and builders from our two countries who have contributed to this project.
Kenneth Kaunda International Conference Centre is implemented with the joint support of the two heads of state. It will be a perfect building for Zambia to host the Mid-Year Coordination Summit of the African Union this year, and will provide Zambia an ideal venue to host regional and international conferences in the future. It will also become a modern facility that demonstrates African unity and enhances Zambia's national image. I believe that the success of this project embodies three precious spirits:
First, the spirit of China-Zambia traditional friendship.
Our friendship was established by the leaders of older generation of the two countries, including Chairman Mao Zedong and President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, and has been carried forward from generation to generation. This morning, H.E. President Xi Jinping had a successful phone conversation with H.E. President Hichilema, which has chartered the course for China-Zambia relations to develop going forward.
Zambia is the first country in southern Africa to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. The two countries have always treated each other as equals with respect, and have given each other firm support on core interests and major concerns. We have forged a spirit of China-Zambia friendship that shares weal and woe, equality and common development. Fully taking advantages of history, development and cooperation, China-Zambia friendship has become a model for China-Africa relations and South-South cooperation. Both the International Airport and this conference center are named after Zambia's founding father President Kenneth Kaunda. China and Zambia will never forget the founder of the friendship between our two countries. Together with TAZARA, Kafue Gorge Lower Hydropower Station, and Levy Mwanawasa Hospital, Kenneth Kaunda International Conference Centre will become a monument of China-Zambia friendship and will witness its brighter future.
Second, the TAZARA Spirit in the new era.
In the 1970s, though facing its own economic hardship at the time, China made the firm decision to build TAZARA upon request. Unafraid of dangers or sacrifice, builders from China and Zambia opened up the Railway of Uhuru and Friendship in Africa. They jointly forged the TAZARA Spirit of mutual respect, tenacity and selfless internationalism. Since the ground breaking in March 2020, Chinese and Zambian builders of Kenneth Kaunda International Conference Centre have overcomed multiple difficulties among COVID-19 pandemic, and completed the construction of this landmark as scheduled. In 2021, the bilateral trade volume between our two countries has achieved a remarkable growth of 23.1% against the global economy downtrend, which created more than fifty thousand job opportunities in Zambia. I firmly believe that under the guidance of the TAZARA spirit in the new era, China and Zambia will surely overcome short-term difficulties and continue to benefit the peoples of our two countries.
Third, the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation.
In the opening ceremony of the FOCAC last year, President Xi Jinping put forward the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, which features sincere friendship and equality, win-win for mutual benefit and common development, fairness and justice, and progress with the times and openness and inclusiveness. As a developing country, China stays committed to providing economic and technical assistance to African countries including Zambia with no political strings attached, under the framework of South-South cooperation and the "Belt and Road" initiative. The first major event at Kenneth Kaunda International Conference Centre will be the Mid-Year Coordination Summit of the AU. The China-aided conference center not only supports Zambia on national development, but also promote solidarity of Africa as a whole. China is willing to work with African countries to bring certainty, peace and development to the uncertain world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I totally agree with your excellency President Hichilema that there is no limit to China-Zambia cooperation. I will uphold the three spirits, follow the tide of win-win cooperation, and work together with the Zambian government and people from all walks of life, to inject new impetus into the China-Zambia traditional friendship.
I wish the 2022 Mid-Year Coordination Summit a complete success!