China / Government

Zambian official calls for cultural integration

By Qin Zhongwei (China Daily) Updated: 2012-07-20 08:15

Chinese enterprises need to combine economic investment with cultural integration as more Chinese companies do business in Africa, Zambian Foreign Minister Given Lubinda said in an exclusive interview with China Daily in Beijing on Wednesday.

"We encourage Chinese companies to be prepared culturally so as to integrate with the local community," Lubinda said ahead of the opening of the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, when talking about the opportunities and challenges that Chinese companies face on the continent.

Statistics show that more than 2,000 Chinese enterprises are currently investing in Africa, and China has been the continent's largest trading partner since 2009.

Using his own country as an example, Lubinda said Chinese enterprises have invested in many sectors of the Zambian economy, especially in resource development. Chinese brands such as Huawei and ZTE are already deeply involved in the country's development, he said.

But for some reason, Chinese tend to keep to themselves rather than mingle with local people, he added. And language and cultural barriers need to be overcome through more engagement if Chinese companies want to do a better job, he said.

And he said he hopes that, for example, besides getting involved in raw copper export in Zambia, Chinese companies can also produce copper products there, which will not only create added value but also more job opportunities. Such a development would be highly welcome, Lubinda said.

As the senior official representing Zambia, which established diplomatic ties with China in 1964, Lubinda said the two countries shared a long-term friendship even before the two countries had formal ties.

After the liberation movement began in what was then the British colony of Northern Rhodesia, China began to offer "moral and material support", and the first embassy that Zambia set up abroad was in China right after Zambia gained its independence, he said.

Through the Tanzania-Zambia Railway built in 1970s, another milestone of the two countries' bilateral history, Zambians became impressed by Chinese who donated their money, and the young engineers and professionals who came to Africa for the construction of the railway, Lubinda said.

"So it is not only a government-to-government relationship, but more than that. It is also people-to-people," he said.

And the solid foundation of friendship has also paved the way for future development in Africa, which aims for a green economy and sustainable growth. It will offer a bright outlook for deepening cooperation between the two sides, he said.

As China carries out its promises to maintain its support to Africa and strengthen the bilateral cooperation through the mechanism of FOCAC and other platforms, Lubinda said he hopes the African countries can speak with one voice to boost the collaboration with China. He is optimistic that the mechanism can produce an "even better result" in the future.

"China has done its part. Now it is up to Africa to do our part," he added.

Hot Topics