Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema paid a state visit to China from September 10-16, where, following talks with his counterpart Xi Jinping, the two countries upgraded their bilateral relationship to that of a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.
In this episode of the CGTN series Leaders Talk, President Hichilema recaps with Li Tongtong his six day journey through four provinces.
He started his visit in Shenzhen, China’s first special economic zone, visiting such cutting edge companies as the telecoms giant Huawei and the electric vehicle pioneer BYD. An enthusiast for China’s modernisation path, he next went to the Jinggangshan mountainous region in Jiangxi province, which was Chairman Mao’s first revolutionary base area in the fight he led to liberate China and the Chinese people. Hichilema opined that Mao had displayed great vision in selecting this region and he saw his own visit as a key part of completing his understanding of the jigsaw of China’s development.
In a similar vein, he also visited a fishing village and other local areas in Fujian province where Xi Jinping had worked and led at the grassroots level, especially in the areas of poverty alleviation and green development. He sees the leapfrog progression to digital development as a crucial reference point for Zambia’s own development path. Zambia needs to drive industrialisation, so that it does not simply extract its natural resources but also processes them to add value.
Zambia joined the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2018 and tangible benefits so far include the stabilising of the energy sector, to eliminate the frequent power cuts known as ‘load shedding’, and the revival of the Tazara Railway, originally built by China in the 1970s to help free landlocked Zambia from the economic strangulation of its southern neighbours, then under European colonialist and white racist rule. The programme includes some moving footage from those years as a highlight of the long and consistent friendship between the two countries and peoples. Winning independence from British colonialism on October 24, 1964, Zambia established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China just five days later, becoming the first country in southern Africa to do so.
The full interview with President Hichilema is embedded below.