Lusaka – Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema has assured China that Lusaka remains an all-weather friend of Beijing and that recent overtures his new administration has made towards Western nations does not signal a pivot away from the East.
This week, President Hichilema said Zambia was engaging China on the US$6.6 billion that the Southern African country owes the Asian economic powerhouse.
“China, like any other country, remains an important partner in the world and we are engaging them regularly and we will continue to do so because there are a lot of debts we owe them,” he said.
China has since the 1960s been facilitating development projects in Zambia, starting with the US$500 million investment in the Tanzania-Zambia Railway that connects the SADC member states. More recently, China has provided funding for infrastructure projects in Zambia, most notably the US$360 million facelift of Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in addition to similar facilities.
China has facilitated US$2.3 billion for the construction of the 750MW Kafue Gorge Lower hydro power plant, which raised the country’s power output to 3,250MW from 2,900MW.
The projects and the two countries’ trade relations are largely within the context of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation and China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative. China’s Ambassador in Lusaka Mr Li Jie also told The Southern Times that the two countries were all-weather friends, and that Beijing would never impose harmful conditions on financial facilities extended to the Southern African country.