Interview with DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi

President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, paid a state visit to China, from May 24-29, visiting Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. During his visit, President Tshisekedi was interviewed by Wang Guan for the CGTN series, Leaders Talk. 

Noting that he had never visited China before, Tshisekedi congratulated the country on its achievements in modernization, pointing out that, in the late 1960s, China and Congo were at approximately the same level of economic development. The leap China has made, he continued, is impressive. The Chinese model is one that he would like to emulate and replicate in his own country. 

Asked why he had made a point of laying a wreath at the Monument to the People’s Heroes and visiting the Museum of the Communist Party of China, Tshisekedi explained that there are notable parallels between the history of the two countries. They had both suffered from poverty and famine. But China has leveraged its strength and resources to escape from this legacy. Coming to China to see how this had been achieved was, he said, important to him. Regarding some of the negative things said about China by some international voices, he noted that to ensure the safety of more than one billion people, in terms of food security, education and health, is an enormous challenge. Rather than condemn China, he is inspired by its achievements and seeks to build a strong friendship.

Surveying some of the key areas of enhanced cooperation agreed during his visit, the President cited climate change, where the bilateral partnership could benefit the whole world, particularly with the DRC being the most biodiverse country in Africa.

He also laid strong emphasis on the need for the DRC to stop being purely an extractive site for its vast mineral wealth. By moving to refining, jobs would be created and development promoted. China, he explained, had agreed to join hands to promote the industrialisation of the DRC. Without added value, Tshisekedi asserts that Congo’s vast resources are virtually worthless in terms of the country’s development needs. The same could be said for its agricultural produce. Tshisekedi is grateful to China for its understanding and support, which is already producing tangible results, for example in terms of Chinese investment in battery manufacturing facilities that are crucial for renewable energy.

Development is a pressing need and for this peace and security are also needed. In Tshisekedi’s view, Xi Jinping’s concepts of the Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative and Global Civilization Initiative can all be of immense benefit to the DRC as well as to Africa as a whole. The DRC and Africa need China to stand alongside them in the search for peace and as a partner for development.

Moving to the end of the interview, President Tshisekedi struck an optimistic note. One day, he insisted, the DRC would achieve zero poverty. It is possible. China has done it.

The full interview with President Tshisekedi is embedded below.

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