Rich history, shared interests define China-Kenya win-win ties


China and Kenya share a rich history. While Kenya is considered the cradle for mankind, China is one of the four great ancient civilizations. Fossils of the Turkana Boy hominid and the four great inventions – papermaking, gunpowder, printing and compass – point to these similarities in history.

Chinese and the Kenyans are diligent and that explains why both countries are the leading economies in their respective regions.

Both countries have demonstrated their innovative capacity. A Kenyan innovation, M-PESA, for example, has heralded a revolution in mobile phone money transfer and micro-financing service since its inception in 2007. In China, WeChat, a social network platform, has become very popular across and beyond the country.

The Chinese and Kenyan people have enjoyed a long-standing friendship. More than 600 years ago a Chinese navigator, Zheng He, visited the east coast of Kenya four times during his seven voyages to the western oceans. In his visits he brought not only silk, porcelains and tea, but also friendship. A tribal chief in Malindi presented Zheng He with a giraffe, which he took back to China, and the giraffe is regarded as Kylin, a mythical creature symbolizing auspiciousness and great wealth.

In modern times, the two nations, both victims of external aggression or colonization, supported each other in the fight for independence. After independence, both countries were faced with the great task of nation building, greatly impeded by a lack of infrastructure where an industrial foundation was absent.

But after 30 years of hard work from 1949 to 1979, China developed an industrial base and an economy driven by technological innovation and a skilled work force.

From the moment China opened its door to the outside world three decades ago, it has sought to build production capacity, a capital base and acquire technology from developed countries and the four Asian Tigers. This has greatly facilitated China’s economic take-off.

Today, China has entered a more mature stage of industrialization with competitive industries and surplus capacity. China is the world’s largest producer of over 220 categories of industrial products, including steel, cement and automobiles. China produces 38 percent of the world’s machine tools, 41 percent of ships, and 60 percent of power generation equipment.

Correspondingly, Kenya’s multinational investments such as Kenya Commercial Bank, Safaricom, Nakumatt and Kenya Airways, are examples of the country’s success and influence. As President Uhuru Kenyatta stated in his speech during the Madaraka Day celebrations, Kenyans will overcome social and economic challenges and grow. We are confident that, guided by Vision 2030, Kenya is on the right path towards industrialization and modernization. With China’s help, Kenya’s dream can be achieved much sooner.

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