from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – THE debt issue affecting Zambia should not deter bilateral relations with China, the Asian country’s top envoy has said.
Ambassador Du Xiaohui was speaking ahead of the China-Zambia Trade and Investment Forum, which is set to be the biggest edition when it is held on September 28 and 29.
“Second, the debt issue shouldn’t stall China-Zambia bilateral cooperation,” he said.
“The essence of the debt problem is to get initial capital for development, and the key to solve the debt problem is development, which demands investment and economic increase,” Xiaohui said.
Xiaohui said the Chinese Embassy initiated to hold the forum to attract more Chinese companies to invest in Zambia.
“President (Haikande) Hichilema’s attention and substantial support has indicated the aspiration of the Zambian side to develop economic and trade cooperation with China,” the envoy said.
He disclosed that a phone conversation between President Xi Jinping and Hichilema provided political preparation and policy guidance for the forum.
“President Xi stressed that promoting solidarity and cooperation with Zambia and other African countries is China’s long-term and firm strategic choice.”
About 200 Chinese enterprises have officially signed up for the forum.
The Embassy has also invited some 10 Chinese Fortune 500 enterprises to participate virtually.
China and Zambia are set to sign some agreements during the forum to be held at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre, under the theme, “China-Zambia Trade and Investment in the New Era: ‘All-weather, All-dimensional, High-quality’.”
There are over 600 Chinese companies in Zambia, with investment of over US$3 billion and about 50 000 jobs created.
Over the first half of this year, the total bilateral value of trade was $3,76 billion representing nearly 40 percent increase compared with the same period of last year.
Zambia enjoyed a trade surplus of $2,92 billion.
In 2020, Zambia became the continent’s first pandemic-era defaulter on its foreign debt, estimated at around $17,3 billion.
– CAJ News