IT was a long trip for Mr Wang Yi, the Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister.
All the way from Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyang District, in Beijing China to Lubambangwe in Chato District in Tanzania, over 9,000 km apart. In the name of deepening a comprehensive strategic partnership is not a joke. But it was made possible.
The commitment is not new though, it goes back to the glorious days of Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai and the father of our nation, Mwalimu Nyerere. It is their faithful nurturing efforts of the past that still makes the existing friendship strong and long-distance travel from Chaoyang to Chato possible.
As China’s rise continues to shape and shake the course of international affairs, the recent visit to Tanzania made by Hon Wang Yi, meant to strengthen and deepen bilateral relationship, cannot be underestimated.
During his visit, Mr Wang’s tone was very clear and it not only symbolised, but clearly and distinctly displayed his nation’s agenda - to advance China’s foreign relations by taking into account both China’s domestic needs and the international context.
This vision needs a very strong commitment. No wonder a long trip had to be made in order to deepen our comprehensive strategic partnership. And the visit revealed what China’s understanding of Tanzania is. Put it simply, China is impressed by what is happening in our country.
No wonder why, on a much more positive note, whenever Mr Wang spoke, it was quite clear and very much uplifting to hear, from what he knows well, that both our countries understand, and will continue to help each other.
This is true also for both Minister Wang and President Magufuli, who on behalf of their countries, jointly affirmed that they are satisfied with the current situation of the bilateral relations.
Gladly so, grounded on the profound friendly tradition, whose foundation is credited to Chairman Mao and Mwalimu Nyerere, and working on the political foundation of mutual trust, both have full confidence in the prospect of the China-Tanzania relations.
This shall need to be upheld for the benefit of Chinese and Tanzanian people. Mr Wang, a Beijing-born diplomat and politician, whose fluency in English and Japanese, and his highest qualification - Master of Economics, stand as a useful bonus in his career around international relations, was straight to indicate that strong China-Tanzania cooperation is not only in line with the needs of the two sides, but also beneficial for safeguarding the overall interests of developing countries.
The agreements signed in various sectors, especially the fifth section of the Central Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mwanza to Isaka is not only signalling the successful ongoing efforts to strengthen and deepen this bilateral relationship, but they are about the future of Tanzanians and the Chinese people as well.
As for the future plans, further collaborations are possible and doable because Tanzania is also pursuing the 5th government commitment and dedication to Tanzania-China cooperation. This should send a clear signal that our country is willing to further deepen cooperation with China.
To use Wang’s words, the Tanzanian government and people have worked hard to develop the country, and have found a path toward national renewal suited to your conditions. The cooperation journey continues though. There shall be a lot to be done. Both partner states shall need to uphold some key partnership values.
And talking of the values and visions, this reminds me of President Xi Jinping’s advice when he visited Tanzania back in 2013, when he put forth the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith and the principle of pursuing greater good and shared interests.
These guiding principles of China’s policy toward Africa are also echoed in the Tanzania’s new foreign policy which indicates that these values have helped the country to successfully move towards consolidating its unity, foster greater political pluralism and promote economic liberalisation.
This is important as President Magufuli has reassured Hon Wang Yi. As the world is changing in terms of actors and issues, a time when new challenges and opportunities emerge, both countries have to pay attention. In fact, JPM’s call extended to China with a focus on trade indicates that Tanzania’s foreign policy and its implementation cannot remain unaffected by those changes.
So, from what I see, cumulative outcomes of this, previous and future high-level visits will continue to play a transformational role for our ties. Yes, relationships aimed at securing prosperity.
Here I mean prosperity which will be born out of support in advancing Tanzania’s key areas of focus, such as those of the ongoing major infrastructure projects, accelerating industrialisation, and enhancing capacity building for our self-generated development.
To conclude my article on Mr Wang’s visit, the two famous Chinese proverbs suit my opinion: they read, “only when all contribute their firewood can they build up a strong fire” and “with true friends, even water drunk together is sweet enough.”
The sweet water and firewood pictures were also reflected in the visit which also reminded the young generation about the history of the relationship between the two countries. And Mr Wang was honest when he said as China’s staunch friend in Africa, Tanzania holds a special and important place in the history of China’s foreign relations.
He later added, China will never forget that Tanzania, along with other African brotherly countries, helped the People’s Republic of China restore its lawful seat in the United Nations in 1971.
To this end and in relation to Hon Wang Yi’s recent visit to Tanzania, I agree with John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), the 35th president of the United States, who once said: Geography has made us neighbours [though not China and Tanzania].
History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies. Those whom God has so joined together, let no man put asunder.
Cheers! Dr Alfred Sebahene, PhD Social Ethics Specialist and Anti-Corruption Consultant St John’s University of Tanzania Dodoma, Tanzania Email Addresses: arsebahene2@ yahoo.co.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: 0767 233 997