CHINESE President Xi Jinping affirmed China’s unwavering support for Zambia’s national sovereignty, security, and development interests during a significant meeting with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema in Beijing on Friday. The two leaders upgraded their bilateral relationship to a ‘comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership,’ as reported by the Chinese state news agency, Xinhua.
Xi Jinping expressed China’s eagerness to collaborate with Zambia on expanding cooperation across multiple domains, including infrastructure, agriculture, mining, and clean energy. This diplomatic move further underscores China’s commitment to fostering closer ties with African nations, in line with its foreign policy goals, as articulated by President Xi in July.
Zambia, in turn, is actively seeking to restructure its external debt with China while exploring avenues for increased trade opportunities with the world’s second-largest economy.
Hichilema expressed his gratitude to China for its support of the African Union’s inclusion in the Group of 20 major economies, which transpired during the September 9-10 summit in New Delhi. Additionally, he lauded China’s positive role in resolving Zambia’s debt issues. However, there was no specific mention of debt agreements in the joint statement released by China and Zambia following their meeting.
Nonetheless, both countries have committed to promoting the use of local currency settlements in their trade and investment activities. This strategic move is expected to reduce exchange costs and mitigate exchange rate risks, benefiting enterprises in both nations.
China and Zambia also plan to strengthen their collaboration in mineral exploration and facilitate high-level exchanges within their respective militaries. Zambia has extended invitations to Chinese mining enterprises to continue actively participating in mining cooperation, while China encourages its firms to invest in Zambia’s new energy battery value chain.
China has substantial commercial interests in Zambia, with investments spanning over 30 projects through its Belt and Road Initiative from 2014 to 2023, totalling $11.3bn. These projects encompass a wide array of sectors, from energy to agriculture and aviation. Notably, China is a prominent destination for Zambian exports, primarily copper, accounting for approximately one-fifth of the nation’s exports.
President Hichilema emphasised Zambia’s adherence to the one-China principle and expressed a keen interest in learning from China’s development experience, embracing Chinese-style modernisation concepts and principles.
In response, President Xi Jinping reiterated China’s commitment to facilitating the entry of more high-quality Zambian products into the Chinese market and encouraging Chinese-funded enterprises to invest in Zambia.
President Hichilema’s visit to China is scheduled until Saturday, with both countries eagerly looking forward to strengthening their partnership in various fields.