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A man reads a book donated by the Experience China project at the National Central Library of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam on Monday. Liu Xiangrui / China Daily
A China library opened within Tanzania's national library in the African nation's capital of Dar es Salaam on Monday.
The China library is a part of the Experience China in Tanzania program, a large cultural exchange initiated by China's State Council's Information Office. It is co-hosted by the Chinese embassy in Tanzania and several Tanzanian government agencies.
With a total donation of around $300,000, the State Council's Information Office has provided the China library with 20 computers, 1,000 paper publications and DVDs, and more than 100,000 digital publications related to Chinese politics, economy, culture, history, arts and science.
Zhang Yanbin, director of a bureau under the State Council's Information Office, said the China library will serve as a means for Tanzanians to understand China.
"To maintain long-term cooperation, the China library is collaboratively built by us and the Tanzanian cultural ministry, instead of purely with our donations," Zhang said. "This is a creative move in China's cultural exchanges with other countries."
As the largest library in Tanzania, the National Central Library serves readers with a stock of more than one million books.
Two rooms in the library are used to house the donated computers, and the books and DVDs themed on Chinese culture.
Alli Mcharazo, director-general of the Tanzania Library Services Board, said the digital devices will greatly help improve the national library's digitalization in the future.
He expects nearly 200 people to use the computers every day.
The Chinese sponsors will maintain the China library for three years.
Lu Youqing, China's ambassador to Tanzania, said at the ceremony that "China and Tanzania are good friends, brothers and partners.
"In recent years, cultural exchanges continue to increase with the expansion of bilateral cooperation," he said.
"I hope the China library can become a new window for the Tanzanian people to learn about Chinese history and reality, and a new bridge of our deepening traditional friendship as well."
In addition to establishing the library, Experience China has also brought to Tanzania a Chinese performance troupe and media representatives, as well as film and TV programs to help Tanzanian people understand modern China.
After the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, held in Beijing in July, Chinese government decided to further strengthen cooperation with Africa and deepen the new strategic partnership between the two sides.
Against this background, Experience China is also an important exchange program to deepen mutual understanding and friendship between Chinese and Tanzanians, Zhang said.
Joseph Lino, a journalist who works for The Rai and The African newspapers, said most public and school libraries in Tanzania lack or have only old books, and students in secondary schools severely lack computer knowledge and skills.
The China library project is going to facilitate communications between the Tanzanian and Chinese people, he added.
"It's a great thing. Many Tanzanian people want to know more about China, which is one of the booming economies in the world. We are interested in its people, economy, culture and technology," he said.
(China Daily 09/25/2012 page11)