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Tanzania 'welcomes overseas investment'

By Qin Zhongwei | China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-25 07:59

Xi's visit will bring bilateral ties to a new height, ambassador says

Tanzania, which considers China a "role model of development and a true friend", welcomes its investment and expects to collaborate more closely on bilateral ties, the Tanzanian ambassador to China said.

"China has contributed to the sustainable development of Tanzania," Philip S. Marmo said during an exclusive interview with China Daily in Beijing before flying to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city, to receive President Xi Jinping.

Tanzania hopes Xi's trip will bring bilateral ties "to a new height" and send a message to the world that the relationship between China and Africa "continues to stand the test of time", Marmo said.

During his first trip overseas since taking office, Xi will visit three African countries: Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo. He is expected to meet Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and deliver a speech in Dar es Salaam explaining China's policy on Africa.

Of the African countries, Tanzania enjoys particularly close, multi-layered ties with China. Beijing established diplomatic ties with the country in 1964. Relations were highlighted in the 1970s when China built the 1,800-kilometer Tanzania-Zambia railway. Scores of Chinese engineers, workers and doctors lost their lives during the construction of the project, the ambassador said.

In the new era, with both countries now working on their five-year development plans, China and Tanzania have further solidified their ties. China is helping Tanzania realize its ambitious plan to improve its infrastructure. With its location bordering the Indian Ocean and its domestic stability, Tanzania hopes to become a transportation center in the eastern part of the continent and a "Gateway to Africa".

Geographically, Tanzania, which has a population of about 46 million, is to Africa what Singapore is to Asia. Half of Africa can be easily accessed from Tanzania, Marmo said, adding: "We want to take advantage of this".

Tanzania has been making infrastructure improvements and will also establish a logistics center in Dar es Salaam to serve central and eastern African countries, which is only "one of the ambitious plans", he said. China is cooperating with Tanzania to build a new port near Dar es Salaam. The port will contain an industrial park, covering an area of about 50 sq km, to attract domestic and international investors.

China-Tanzania trade has increased steadily in recent years. In 2011, the total trade volume between the two sides reached $2.15 billion. The major products exported from Tanzania to China are cashew nuts, sisal and sesame, according to China's embassy in Tanzania.

Responding to accusations from the West that China's presence in Africa is a form of neo-colonialism, Marmo said the claims are completely groundless.

"Tanzania looks at China as a role model of development and a true friend. China has supported Tanzania in many projects that have lifted many Tanzanians from poverty, disease, hunger and illiteracy," he said.

"And from what we see, there are more similarities between Chinese culture and African culture, compared with Western culture. And Chinese mix very easily with Africans," he added. More and more Tanzanian entrepreneurs and retailers have started to do business in Chinese cities such as Guangzhou and Wenzhou.

Besides being involved in the economic development of Africa, China has also been actively working with Tanzania and other countries to solve regional disputes to ensure a stable continent, according to the ambassador, who mentioned the conflicts in Somalia and in Sudan and South Sudan.

"We hope that China and Tanzania can have more collaboration in these areas to ensure stable, good governance in the region," he said. The two countries are also working together on international topics such as the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.

qinzhongwei@chinadaily.com.cn

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