The Sunday Mail
Ambassador Guo Shaochun
This week, China celebrates New Year. To mark the new calendar, China Ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun last week hosted a reception for the Chinese community in Zimbabwe which was also attended by Cabinet ministers, senior Government officials and other invited guests. We publish Ambassador Guo’s welcome remarks at the event.
On the eve of the Chinese New Year, the Embassy is delighted to extend a very warm welcome to you all and best wishes to your families.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, we are bidding farewell to the year of the pig and ushering in the year of the mouse. In our culture, these two animals each stand for sturdiness and intelligence. I find it a fitting description of the passing year and the one to come.
In 2019, the People’s Republic of China celebrated its 70th anniversary when a number of challenges brought about uncertainties at home and abroad.
In a show of sturdiness, China made steady progress in its own development and helped to keep the world in the right direction. Amid a multitude of global economic growth disruptors, China maintained its commitment to reform and openness, and continued to lead global growth.
Creating 11,93 million jobs in the first 10 months of 2019, we realised the annual target for job creation two months ahead of schedule. Per capita disposable income rose by 6,1 percent in real terms, outpacing the growth of per capita GDP. Trade was brisk with ASEAN, the EU, and countries along the routes of the Belt and Road initiative.
At a landmark session in October, the Communist Party of China outlined the clear contours of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and drew up a road-map for modernising China’s system and capacity for governance.
In 2019, the global order was reeling under the pressure of unilateralism, protectionism and power politics.
China sent out a clear and firm message: all countries are in a community with a shared future. We must consult and work with one another, support the international multilateral system, and pool our strength in order to tackle the common challenges and embrace a brighter future.
Sturdiness is also the word I would use to describe China-Zimbabwe relations in 2019.
Strong was the bond between our leaders and senior officials who regularly interacted and visited with each other.
Firm was our determination to stand by each other in the international community on matters concerning each other’s interests. Unflagging was China’s support for Zimbabwe as it battled against natural disasters and development challenges.
When Zimbabwe was severely hit by Cyclone Idai early last year, China was quick to respond by providing emergency humanitarian assistance.
We are now working with Zimbabwe to advance post-disaster reconstruction. The New Parliament Building, the pharmaceutical warehouse, the borehole drilling and other projects financed by Chinese grants are advancing on schedule and will be handed over to the Government and people of Zimbabwe on time.
Steady was the progress in our practical co-operation. The joint projects like the Hwange Thermal Power Station project, the (Robert Gabriel) Mugabe International Airport expansion project and the NetOne Phase Three project are all progressing very well. Robust was the popular support for China-Zimbabwe relations thanks to a number of cultural programmes unfolding throughout the year.
Just a few days ago, the China Opera and Dance-Drama Theatre art troupe presented fabulous art performance for the Chinese and Zimbabwean audience at the 7 Arts Theatre, to make the 2020 happy spring festival event a full success.
The year 2020 will be a milestone in China’s history. One of the two centenary goals of the nation — to create a moderately well-off society — will finally come true.
Going forward, we will continue to fight the three critical battles against poverty, environmental degradation and financial risks; we will put the people’s well-being first and improve the quality of growth to meet the aspiration of our people to live better lives. The year 2020 is also a milestone in the history of Zimbabwe and in our bilateral relations; as Zimbabwe celebrates its 40 years of independence, its diplomatic relationship with China will also mark its 40th anniversary.
This is not a historical coincidence, but a testament to our special bond which was made official on the very same day of Zimbabwe’s independence.
Last Saturday, the celebration of the 40th anniversary of China-Zimbabwe diplomatic ties was initiated by a high-level visit paid by His Excellency Mr Wang Yi, State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China.
For 30 years in a row, Africa has remained the first destination of Chinese Foreign Minster’s overseas visit marking the beginning of a new year. It speaks volumes about China’s abiding commitment to this great continent. We are pleased and proud that Zimbabwe is an important stop and indeed the last stop of State Councillor Wang Yi’s trip to Africa, which shows our special trust in Zimbabwe.
State Councillor Wang Yi’s engagement with the top leaders of Zimbabwe produced a strong political push for the bilateral relations and a number of tangible outcomes, getting this important relationship to a powerful start in the new year. Building on this momentum, we are confident in achieving more in 2020 to bring four decades of vigorous diplomatic relations to a culmination and lay the foundation for an even more brilliant future.
Forty years of history of China-Zimbabwe diplomatic relations offer us valuable experience. Independence, sovereignty, equality, self-determination and justice — these are the values that brought our forefathers together and gave our relations an ever-beating heart. These are resounding calls across the developing world to which we both belong, though unfortunately they remain challenged today. China and Zimbabwe should be a source of strength for these norms to be established in a new type of international relations.
Looking ahead, we must further upgrade our practical co-operation to boost our economic ties so that they match our high-level political trust. Today, both the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation and the Belt and Road Initiative are two major platforms for us to deepen co-operation.
Together, let’s materialise good projects that promise economic and social returns; identify new areas of opportunity; explore new models and practices; and involve players from more diverse backgrounds to keep our co-operation on the track towards sustained and sustainable growth.
We must encourage greater goodwill between our peoples. The tourism sector could be a good starting point.
A favourable public perception and healthy, informed debate will go a long way towards the continued success of our joint efforts in every aspect.
Here, I wish to reiterate that the achievements of China-Zimbabwe relations could not have been possible without the effort of the Zimbabwean and Chinese governments and peoples including our compatriots living in Zimbabwe.
On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I wish to thank all of you for contributing to the close ties between China and Zimbabwe in 2019 and for your strong and consistent support for the work of our Embassy!
A new year full of hope is around the corner. The Chinese Embassy looks forward to continued good co-operation to meet the aspirations of our people to live better lives.