Living the Vision: Assessing the unique China-Tanzania relations at 60


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On October 25, 1971, The UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 was voted on and adopted by an overwhelming majority of 76 votes in favour, 35 against and 17 abstentions. This resolution recognized...

On October 25, 1971, The UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 was voted on and adopted by an overwhelming majority of 76 votes in favour, 35 against and 17 abstentions.  This resolution recognized the representatives of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as “the only legitimate representatives of China to the UN”.

One may not know why Tanzania strongly supported the restoration of the PRC’s seat in the United Nations. Many people believed this couldn’t have happened. This article will let younger generations know the history of China-Africa friendship. It has actually been sixty years since Tanzania and China started Development Cooperation. At the independence of Tanganyika, China established diplomatic relations with the former British protectorate on December 09, 1961.

Later, Zanzibar came into bilateral relations with China on December 11, 1963. Some observers have right-ly observed that China and Tanzania have always been in a relationship.

Historically, Tanzania-China relations have centred on advocating continuous Economic Development projects and strengthening cooperation between them. Early in the 1970s for instance, China aided the construction of the Tanzania – Zambia Railway (TAZARA), connecting landlocked Zambia to the port city of Dar es Salaam.

Between 1970 and 1975, PRC deployed finances, labour and technical capabilities to ensure that the 1,860 km railway was completed. Speaking of only labour, China dedicated up to 56,000 person-times to work for the project in collabo-ration with Tanzanian and Zambian workers. Through this project, China lost 47 railway experts and technicians. Recent years have witnessed the completion of the China-aided New National Stadium of Tanzania (now renamed Benjamin Mkapa Stadium) and the state-of-the-art Library of University of Dar es Salaam. In 2019, the $10 billion Bagamoyo port project under the Belt and Road Initiative stalled but since June this year it has been subjected to re-negotiation to adjust its terms.

 In a rather unique approach, Chi-na and Tanzania have entered into Agreements to facilitate the implementation of several agreed upon cooperation pacts. For instance, in mid-2021, the Chinese Embassy in Tanzania and the Ministry of Finance and Planning of Tanzania signed a Cooperation Agreement to provide Tanzania with a Chinese gratis aid to support construction projects that have been negotiated and approved by China and Tanzania.

This style of developmental financing meant that cooperation projects will see a smooth and faster implementation than when there was no boost from public financing.

Respectively, China’s development vision aligns itself worldwide. At COP-15 leaders’ summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the international community to enhance cooperation, build consensus and pool strength to safeguard earth life, noting that biodiversity makes earth full of vigor and vitality, and lays the foundation for human survival and development. In the same vein, Beijing’s recently issued white paper: ‘China’s Epic Journey from Poverty to Prosperity’ reiterates that China considers her growth at home in the context of the common development of all humanity, adding that the development of the people of China must be in tandem with the common interests of all peoples across the globe.

Interestingly, the World Bank data confirms that China has lifted millions of her rural residents out of poverty and that the number accounts for more than 70 percent of the world’s total.

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China-donated Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines and syringes arrives at the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport in Zanzibar, Tanzania, July 31, 2021. Photo | Xinhua.

Commendably, China has met the poverty eradication target set in the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development well before the 2030 schedule. No wonder, China jovially celebrates 100 years of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), as well as half century of the restoration of its legitimate rights in the United Nations.

Understand-ably, the world should stand with Chinese President who calls for the ‘World to work together to build a community of shared future for Mankind’ as he noted while at the UN Office in Geneva in 2017. Truly, humanity must be rallying behind China on her vision. Tanzania is a witness to the fact that China lives this vision!

Everywhere, China’s return to the United Nations has had meaning and its importance range from restoring the vibrancy of the UN given that it is one of the most important founding members of the UN and plays an essential role in the world body. By and large, China has advocated multilateralism over the years, playing a responsible role in almost all intergovernmental organizations.

Record revealed that China has signed more than 600 international conventions. This not only consolidates its position and influence in the UN but also in the international landscape at large.

In addressing global challenges, China contributed immensely in supporting the Paris Agreement which provides solutions to global climate change and sustainable development.

At the General Debate of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly for instance, President Xi Jinping announced China’s objectives of peaking its CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060.

China is also committed to assist struggling economies by putting off loan repayments so as to narrow the North-South gap. Likewise, China’s armed forces has played an important role in multi-lateral peacekeeping over the past 30 years, demonstrating China’s determination to support and contribute to the United Nations peace-keeping operations (UNPKOs) and further enhanced the exchanges, mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation between the country and its neighbors.

In addressing global public health concerns, the People’s Republic of China has had a contribution as well. Since the outbreak of the COV-ID-19, China has provided 1.5 billion doses of vaccines and raw ingredients to over 100 countries and international organizations.

Additionally, the country has launched an emergency humanitarian operation and provided medical sup-plies to over 150 countries and 14 international organizations. Notably, China has promised to make its COVID-19 vaccines a global public good in order to ensure the affordability and accessibility of vaccines in developing countries. In a nutshell, China has also promised to work with the glob-al community in order to resolve diplomatic rows and differences; to advance democracy; to uphold the new vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security; to combat non-traditional security threats; to promote modernization of global governance capacity and system, and to jointly build a world of universal security.

Beyond this, the PRC is ready to work with all countries to enhance global solidarity in a win-win manner, and to work for a steady post-COVID world economic order and jointly build a world of shared prosperity. Like the former Prime Minister and the then Permanent Representative to the UN of Tanzania Hon. Salim Ahmed Salim noted, Tanzania’s support for the restoration of the PRC’s lawful seat in the UN did not come by chance, rather, Tanzania, out of a firm belief that China’s membership is key to making the UN vibrant, advocated the restoration. Over the years, China has made important contributions to Africa’s economic development and has been critical to advancing Africa’s economic emancipation long live the friendship between Africa and China!

(This article is contributed by the Centre for Foreign Relations in Dar es Salaam).