DAR ES SALAAM -- The phrase "a friend in need is a friend indeed" is a handy portrait of the relationship between China and Tanzania during the past half century, says the Chinese ambassador to the African nation.
China was among the first few countries to recognize the independence of Tanganyika in 1961 and Tanzania was among the African countries that made efforts to help return China to the United Nations in 1972, Ambassador Liu Xinsheng said during a lunar New Year celebration with overseas Chinese.
Though China was a long way from welfare itself in the 1960s, it did not hesitate to send doctors and nurses to help with the medical development of the African country. The help first began in the Indian Ocean archipelago of Zanzibar in 1964 and then in the Tanzania mainland starting in 1968, Liu said.
He added that experts on agriculture, construction and mineral also came to the assistance of their Tanzanian counterparts in their respective fields.
Later, tens of thousands of railway workers came to build the 1,860-kilometer Tanzania-Zambia Railway, better known in East Africa as the TAZARA, he said.
Bilateral trade has grown more than 10 fold since the turn of this century, increasing from US$93.44 million in 2001 to over US$900 million last year, bringing Tanzania up to 15th among the 60 African economies that trade with China.
Apart from debt write-off programs that have benefited Tanzania, China also continues with aid projects in the country, where a landmark building has been already completed, and another is not far away.
A 60,000-seat new national stadium is hailed as the most modern sports facility of its kind in East Africa.
China will build an international conference center in the capital of Dar es Salaam for conventions and tourism development.
In addition, China has completed a drinking water network in central Tanzania and is training local staff to operate it.
There is lots to do this year to further promote a friendly China-Tanzania relationship, boost economic cooperation and bilateral trade, as well as benefit the Chinese who work and do businesses in Tanzania, the ambassador said.
The Tanzanian people take the Chinese as friends and China will always do the same, he added.
Chinese President Hu Jintao will pay state visits to Saudi Arabia,Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Mauritius from February 10 to 17.
Hu's visit is aimed at further consolidating China's friendship and cooperation with the countries, strengthening China's cooperation with the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, and promoting the implementation of the measures announced at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.