China, Tanzania stand together in hard times

By Wang Ke Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/18 20:53:40

BRI cooperation is entering a stage of high-quality development

The Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania Wang Ke Photo: Courtesy of the Chinese Embassy in Tanzania


Graphics: GT

The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading rapidly around the world. In the face of the enormous challenges posed by the outbreak, the Chinese and Tanzanian peoples have carried forward the spirit of the Silk Road, stood together in hard times and helped one another in the fight against the pandemic. 

We have put into practice the vision of a community working for the good of all people, and have worked together to build high-quality construction under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Building a community for global health

We will never forget that when China's fight against the virus entered a difficult period, the Tanzanian government and people immediately stood up and supported us through words and actions.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli personally delivered a letter to me that he wrote to Chinese President Xi Jinping, telling me that Tanzania will stand firmly with China in good times and bad. "As long as our Chinese brothers are in need, we can send doctors to China to join the fight against the pandemic at any time."

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi and other Tanzanian politicians firmly supported China's fight against the virus through letters and briefings. 

Tanzanian civil organizations and people from all walks of life have also been praying for China. Our social media account is "China come on, Wuhan come on," where the Sino-Tanzanian community in East Africa has issued the loudest voice.

In the fight against COVID-19, China has always adhered to the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind. While making every effort to protect the lives of its people, China has defended the world against COVID-19 with strength, wisdom and sacrifice, thus gaining valuable time and experience for the global battle against the outbreak.

Thanks to the joint efforts of domestic and foreign countries in the prevention and control of the virus, there has not been a single case imported to Tanzania from China. Of the more than 4,000 Tanzanian citizens in China, including over 400 international students in Wuhan, Hubei Province, none have contracted the virus. For this reason, Prime Minister Majaliwa and Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu have expressed their sincere gratitude to the Chinese side on many occasions.

As Tanzania battles an increasingly serious outbreak, China sympathizes with the Tanzanian side and is eager to help and support it to the best of its ability. 

First, we have actively shared the experience we gained while fighting the virus. Our embassy has made good use of local media in Tanzania to tell the stories of China's fight against COVID-19, and has repeatedly facilitated Tanzanian participation in video conferences with Chinese medical experts, so as to share China's experience and practices in the prevention and treatment of the virus.

Second, we have organized donations of anti-virus supplies. We took the initiative to understand the needs of the Tanzanian side, mobilized all forces and extended a helping hand in a timely manner.

Materials donated by our embassy, the Jack Ma Foundation, the Alibaba Foundation, Huawei and other Chinese enterprises have been delivered to the Tanzanian government. The first batch of Chinese government aid and materials donated by the Chinese Contractor Association were handed over last Friday. China was the first country to lend a helping hand to Tanzania, and it is also the country that has provided the most material assistance to the East African country. 

Third, China has assisted Tanzanian enterprises in solving the shortage of raw medical materials used to make masks and has facilitated Tanzania's commercial procurement of anti-virus supplies in China.

BRI promotion in hard times

Tanzania is an important BRI hub in Africa, thanks to its geographical advantages. Over the past seven years, China and Tanzania have worked hand-in-hand to promote the construction of the BRI, achieving impressive results in various fields.

China and Tanzania have formally signed a BRI cooperation memorandum and China has now been the largest project contractor in Tanzania for many years.

Chinese companies have completed the construction of Nyerere Bridge, the first cable-stayed bridge in East Africa. The Ubungo flyover, the first multi-layer and multi-track flyover in Tanzania, is under construction, and Dar es Salaam Port is being upgraded, among other major projects.

China has been Tanzania's largest trading partner for four consecutive years. During the second CIIE, President Xi visited the Tanzanian pavilion, further strengthening trade ties between China and Tanzania.

In terms of financial integration, China and Tanzania signed an agreement on cooperation to support infrastructure construction and financing in Tanzania.

There are two Confucius institutes and two Confucius schools in Tanzania, which allow tens of thousands of Tanzanian students to learn Chinese. Over the past half century, more than 20 million Tanzanians have received treatment from Chinese medical teams.

The joint construction of the BRI by China and Tanzania is entering a stage of high-quality development, but the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 is posing a severe test, with some local projects facing difficulties such as limited personnel rotation and blocked materials supplies.

However, the Chinese and Tanzanian people are working together to prevent and control the spread of the virus and project processes to steadily push forward BRI construction.

President Magufuli paid a visit to the Ubungo flyover construction site on March 16. He praised the excellent progress of the project amid the pandemic and expressed his gratitude to the Chinese company that undertook its construction.

Chinese employees have been working day and night to promote the upgrading of the Dar es Salaam Port so as to ensure its normal operation as an important transport corridor connecting Tanzania with landlocked countries in the region. Tanzanian Transport Minister Isack Kamwelwe said it was the right choice to give the project to Chinese companies, which have overcome difficulties to increase the port's handling capacity by more than 5 million tons per day within just two years, which will also bring new life to the TAZARA Railway.

The Chinese and Tanzanian peoples have worked together to fight against the pandemic and overcome the difficult times. This further solidifies the longstanding friendship between China and Tanzania, and further confirms the significance of the BRI's aim to build a community with a shared future for mankind. This proves that China and Tanzania, and Africa as a whole, have always been a community with a shared future. 

The COVID-19 outbreak has not changed the long-term fundamentals of China's economy. China has now fully resumed work and production, and is expected to become the first economy in the world to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. As a gateway to East and Central Africa, Tanzania will continue to play an important role in promoting trade and practical cooperation between China and countries in the region. We believe that after the storm, high quality China-Tanzania BRI cooperation will deepen and reach further.

The author is the Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania


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