BY LIU XIANFA
At the invitation of H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Chinese Premier H.E. Li Keqiang will pay an official visit to Kenya from May 9 to 11, 2014.
Besides Kenya, Premier Li Keqiang will also pay official visits to Ethiopia and the headquarters of the African Union, Nigeria and Angola at their invitation. This visit bears great significance for both China-Kenya and China-Africa relations, which can be regarded as one of cooperation and solidarity on the basis of past traditions.
Fifty years ago, the late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai visited 10 African countries and put forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and the Eight Principles of Foreign Aid, mapping out the guidelines of China’s policy towards other developing countries, Africa included, and opening a whole new chapter of China-Africa relations.
The past five decades have witnessed China-African friendship being handed down from generation to generation. China and Africa have been firmly standing together through storms and stress, and sincerely supporting each other no matter how the international climate changes.
This visit is of great importance and significance, as it will be H.E. Premier Li Keqiang’s first ever visit to Africa, as well as the first visit to Kenya by a Chinese premier in over a decade. I am fully confident that this visit marks one of the most historic events for China-Kenya relations which will surely further strengthen China-Kenya political mutual trust and upgrade the pragmatic cooperation in economic and cultural exchanges between the two countries.
Though geographically far apart, China and Kenya are well connected, politically, economically, culturally and technologically. Friendship and cooperation between China and Kenya have won wide praise from the people of the two countries.
Kenya is one of the coastal countries of the Maritime Silk Road. More than 600 years ago, Chinese navigator Zheng He, visited Kenya four times during his seven voyages to the western oceans with many beautiful legends passed down. In the past 50 years since China and Kenya established diplomatic ties, the two countries have enjoyed numerous great and fruitful achievements, on the basis of equality and mutual trust.
Last August, H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta chose China as the destination of his first state visit to foreign countries. The Chinese President H.E. Xi Jinping and President Uhuru Kenyatta decided to establish China-Kenya comprehensive cooperative partnership of equality, mutual trust, mutual benefit and win-win outcome. Last December, China and Kenya celebrated the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties. Early this year, the Chinese navy escort fleet visited Mombasa, the first to Kenya since China started its escort missions in Somali waters at the end of 2008. Kenya for the first time has its own underwater archaeologists through a joint excavation project with China. The two countries have also kept close coordination in international and regional affairs and supported each other on major issues.
As Chinese Ambassador to Kenya, I am so proud that China-Kenya economic cooperation and trade also attained a much higher level last year. The bilateral trade volume reached 3.27 billion US dollars and the contracted direct investment from China to Kenya reached 537 Million US Dollars. China is the largest source of foreign direct investment to Kenya and its second largest trade partner. Numerous infrastructure projects undertaken by Chinese companies have improved the living standards of Kenyans and local people have benefited from the on-site technical training offered by Chinese companies.
The people-to-people exchanges have also been flourishing. We have three Confucius Institutes in Kenya and the fourth one is on the way. Four major Chinese media houses have established their African headquarters in Nairobi. China Central Television (CCTV) broadcasts their African news worldwide every day. Each year, Chinese government provides over 500 scholarships and training opportunities to Kenya.
Though being in Kenya for merely three months, I have already felt the sincere and deep friendship between the two peoples. I have heard lots of touching stories between ordinary Chinese and Kenyan people. When I walk down the street, I always hear some Chinese words as “Nihao (Jambo), Xiexie (Asante)” from Kenyan friends. I am so moved and motivated that I endeavour to further promote cultural and people to people exchanges between the two countries.
Currently, the Chinese government and people are committed to realizing the dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and the Kenyan government and people are working hard towards achieving Vision 2030 development blueprint. The Chinese dream and Kenyan dream are closely interconnected and we are willing to join hands with Kenyan brothers and sisters to fulfil our dreams under the guidelines for the development of China-Africa relations in the new situation, namely “sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith”.
As H.E. Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out recently during his trip to Europe, “Now China the lion has awakened, but it is a peaceful, amicable and civilized lion.” Kenya the lion, as well strong but gentle, is also on the rise. The two lions have decided to march side by side and make bigger roars and quicker paces together.
China-Kenya ties are set for a new voyage along the footprints of Zheng He and heading for greater and better times. H.E. Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Kenya is timed right on the occasion and will definitely be a great success. Let’s make joint efforts to bring more benefits to both peoples and contribute to a stable and prosperous world.
(Liu is the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya)