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New leap forward for China-Kenya ties

Updated: 2013-08-16 08:56
By Liu Guangyuan ( China Daily)

President Kenyatta's state visit will underline the strength of an old friendship

At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Uhuru Kenyatta, president of Kenya, will pay a six-day state visit to China from Aug 18. The visit, coinciding with the 50th anniversaries of the independence of Kenya and the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Kenya, will be a journey of friendship and cooperation.

During the visit, the two leaders will renew friendship, discuss cooperation and lay out blueprints for the development of bilateral relations. The two sides will also sign a series of agreements, which will add vitality to current cooperation in various fields.

Looking back, we are very proud of the friendship and cooperation between China and Kenya and their two peoples. More than 600 years ago, the Chinese navigator Zheng He visited Kenya four times during his seven voyages to the western oceans. Many historic prints and beautiful legends about these visits have passed down the generations. Zheng He's story is known to all people in both China and Kenya.

Fifty years ago, Kenya won its independence through great efforts and arduous struggles. China had offered firm support to Kenya in this regard and became one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the African nation.

The world has gone through constant change in the past half a century, but what has remained unchanged is the belief of both our countries in pursuing independence, peace and development, the genuine friendship between our two peoples, and the determination of both sides to jointly create a better future on an equal footing with mutual support.

The China-Kenya friendship has become a treasure for both peoples. China-Kenya cooperation in various fields has achieved fruitful results. The bilateral relationship has become a role model for China's friendly cooperation with other developing countries.

We enjoy profound mutual trust in politics and friendly interactions at all levels in various fields. We coordinate our actions in international and regional affairs and support each other on major issues related to the other side's core interests.

China does its best to provide assistance for Kenya's economic development. China has been offering grants and loans to Kenya to construct social development projects such as road and power infrastructure, sports centers, hospitals, schools and so on. China has also provided Kenya with timely food assistance for drought relief.

China-Kenya economic cooperation and trade is developing strong momentum. By June this year, China's cumulative direct investment in Kenya had reached $474 million. Bilateral trade reached $2.84 billion last year. China has become Kenya's largest source of foreign direct investment and second-largest trade partner.

Investment by Chinese companies in Kenya covers several sectors, such as vehicle and home appliance assembly and construction materials. They have established partnerships with local companies, transferred advanced and practical technology to Kenya, and created job opportunities for the local people. About 80 to 90 percent of employees hired by Chinese companies in Kenya are locals. In addition, Chinese companies are devoted to carrying out their social responsibilities and making contributions to local communities. They make donations to schools, drill wells, repair roads, sponsor healthcare and sports sectors, and live in harmony with the Kenyan people.

Our cooperation in the fields of media, culture and education has been further boosted. Four major Chinese media houses have established their African headquarters in Nairobi, and three Confucius Institutes have been established in Kenya. China offers more than 200 government scholarships to Kenyan students annually. The number of Chinese tourists to Kenya is on the rise, and soared to more than 40,000 last year. This year, the figure has been increasing even faster.

Wildlife is Kenya's major natural resource and economic pillar. The Chinese people, together with the Kenyan people, regard wildlife as our shared friends and abhor poachers and smugglers. The Chinese government and the Kenyan government have reached broad consensus on strengthening wildlife conservation and fighting poachers and smugglers from any country. China will provide Kenya with grants in this area.

Standing at a historic point of a new departure in China-Kenya relations, we have every reason to believe that tomorrow will be better and we look to it with eagerness and passion.

China is now actively carrying forward industrialization, informatization, urbanization and agricultural modernization, making every effort to fulfill the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the nation. Under the leadership of President Kenyatta, the Kenyan government and people are striding forward toward Vision 2030, to achieve the Kenyan dream of unity, self-reliance, development and prosperity.

We are communities of destiny with similar historical experiences and values. Our respective dreams are tightly linked, creating an important opportunity for the development of mutually beneficial cooperation. As long as we work hand in hand, China-Kenya friendship will become more magnificent than Mount Kenya, and the prospect of China-Kenya cooperation will become broader than Maasai Mara.

I wish President Kenyatta a successful visit. I believe he will return home with the friendship of the Chinese people. Friendly relations and cooperation between China and Kenya will definitely produce a new leap forward and reach a higher level.

The author is the Chinese ambassador to Kenya.

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