-Tanzania friendship, and feel more determined to carry forward the cause and write a new chapter of mutually beneficial cooperation between our two countries.
The year 1965 is of special importance in the history of China-Tanzania relations. Three major events occurred in that year, namely President Julius Nyerere’s first state visit to China, the signing of China-Tanzania Friendship Treaty, and Premier Zhou Enlai’s official visit to Tanzania. The three historic events heated up the bilateral diplomatic relations which was only one year old, and set up a solid foundation for China-Tanzania all-weather friendship and good partnership.
In February 1965, President Julius Nyerere paid his first state visit to China. He was warmly received by the then Chinese leaders, Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi and others. Through this visit, President Nyerere built profound personal friendships with the Chinese leaders. He made an tentative request during the visit for China’s assistance in building the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA), and to his surprise, the Chinese leaders gave him a positive response despite the fact that China was a poor country at that time. Chairman Mao Zedong told President Nyerere, “You have difficulties, so do we. But your difficulties are different from ours. We will still help you build this railway even if that means we won’t be able to build railways on our own land.” From this President Nyerere found China, though far away from Tanzania, treated Tanzania as an equal partner and was willing to offer assistance with sincerity. For that reason, President Nyerere made up his mind and committed himself to strengthening China-Tanzania and China-Africa friendly ties throughout his life. He visited China for 13 times, which made him one of the foreign heads of state who visited China most often. On 1 July 1997, as his last trip to China, Mwalimu Nyerere, in spite of his old age, attended the handover ceremony of Hong Kong, and conveyed his warm congratulations to the Chinese people who fulfilled their long-cherished wish.
Another important achievement of President Nyerere’s first visit to China is the signing of China-Tanzania Friendship Treaty. This is the first friendship treaty that China has signed with a country located in eastern and southern Africa. Therefore it has played an important leading and exemplary role in the development of China-Africa ties. The Treaty begins with following statement, “the strengthening of friendly cooperation between China and Tanzania conforms to the fundamental interests of the peoples of the two countries, helps promote the solidarity between them as well as among Asian and African peoples and the common struggle against imperialism, and conduces to peace in Asia, Africa and the world.” The Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, the spirit of equality, mutual benefit and friendly cooperation, and the settlement of any issue through peaceful consultation, as stipulated in the Treaty, are the key enduring principles that have ensured the steady and sound development of China-Tanzania relations.
During his visit to China, President Nyerere extended his sincere invitation to Chinese leaders for paying a visit to Tanzania. As a nation attaching importance to courtesy and friendship, the Chinese people never disappoint friends. Four months after President Nyerere’s visit to China, Premier Zhou Enlai paid a return visit to Tanzania. Crowds of Tanzanian people voluntarily poured into the street to welcome Premier Zhou, which was a spectacular event. During the visit, when President Nyerere said to Premier Zhou that Tanzania had to first explore the possibility of obtaining aid from western countries to build the TAZARA, Premier Zhou replied generously, “It doesn’t matter who build the TAZARA. It must be built as early as possible. If western countries don’t want to build it, China will build it. With this trump card, you are able to bargain with western countries.” President Nyerere was deeply touched. This visit, as well as the friendliness and personal charisma of Premier Zhou, impressed the Tanzanian people, and since then name “Zhou Enlai” has become well-known in Tanzania. When Premier Zhou passed away in 1976, the Tanzanian people felt the same sorrow as the Chinese people did. President Nyerere wrote in his letter of condolences that Premier Zhou Enlai is a great men of China belonging to the whole world, that the Tanzanian people regard him as a great man, a great friend of humankind and a leader who inspires others, and that Tanzanians are moved by his broad and in-depth views, and his dedication to freedom, justice and international peace.
Despite the rapid and tremendous changes in the world during the past 50 years and more, the unbreakable brotherhood between China and Tanzania and their firm belief in friendly cooperation remain unchanged. In 2013, when Chinese President Xi Jinping made his maiden foreign trip after assuming the presidency, he came to Africa, and Tanzania was his first stop. At the newly launched Chinese grant project, Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam, President Xi proposed the new concepts of China’s Africa policy, namely sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, and pursuing the greater good and shared interests. These concepts were defined as China’s guiding principles in its relations with developing countries at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which shows that China-Tanzania ties are in the forefront of China-Africa relations and South-South cooperation.
Over the past 50 years and more, China and Tanzania have always respected and supported each other. The two countries respect each other’s right to independently choose political system and development path, and unconditionally support each other’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. At the beginning of the establishment of diplomatic ties, China helped Tanzania train freedom fighters, supported Tanzania in nation building, and provided important assistance to Tanzania and its neighboring countries in consolidating the new states. In 1971, Tanzania made important contributions to the restoration of China’s lawful seat in the United Nations. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, former Tanzanian Prime Minister Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, who was Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the UN from 1970 to 1980, was awarded the Friendship Medal by Chinese President Xi Jinping, thus becoming the only African recipient of China’s highest honour for foreigners. This year, facing the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, China and Tanzania once again joined hands and fought side by side. At the most difficult time in China’s fight against the pandemic, the Tanzanian government and people timely expressed their sympathy and offered their sincere support to China. After Tanzania was affected by COVID-19, China started to provide assistance at the earliest possible time, becoming the first country to help Tanzania fight against the disease.
Over the past 50 years and more, the cooperation between China and Tanzania have always been mutually beneficial, complementary and in win-win spirit. The two countries have conducted fruitful cooperation in infrastructure, industry, agriculture, trade, investment, education, health, tourism, etc. China has been Tanzania’s largest trading partner for four consecutive years. In 2019, the trade volume between the two countries exceeded US$ 4.1 billion, ranking the second in China’s bilateral trade with East African countries. China is the largest source of investment for Tanzania, with more than 700 projects and a total value exceeding US$ 7 billion. These investment projects have created approximately 150,000 direct and indirect jobs for Tanzanians. The China-Tanzania cooperation has created many “biggest” and “first” projects. The Tanzania-Zambia Railway is the largest turnkey foreign aid project that China has ever financed and undertaken abroad since its founding in 1949. The Library of the University of Dar es Salaam is the largest state-of-the-art library in Africa built with China’s official assistance. Among the many projects undertaken by Chinese companies, the Nyerere Bridge is the first cable-stayed sea-crossing bridge in East Africa. The soon-to-be-completed Ubungo Flyover will become the most sophisticated interchange in Tanzania. For the past five decades, China has continuously sent medical teams, military experts and agricultural experts to work with the Tanzanian people, and they have become “goodwill ambassadors” between our two countries.
Over the past 50 years and more, China and Tanzania have maintained close people-to-people exchanges. China has provided Tanzania nearly 2,000 government scholarships and around 7,000 short-term training opportunities. China is becoming a popular destination for Tanzanian youth to study and work. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has been protecting Tanzanians like its own nationals, and Chinese universities and teachers have looked after nearly 5,000 Tanzanian students in China like their own children, and as a result none of them have been infected with the virus. In recent years, an increasing number of Chinese nationals have come to Tanzania for business, study, investment and tourism. It is believed that with the control of COVID-19 and improvement of the situation, the cultural and people-to-people exchanges between our two countries will return to normal and gain even greater vitality.
Over the past 50 years and more, China and Tanzania have worked together to uphold fairness and justice. The two countries have always been a staunch defender and promoter of the spirit of the UN Charter. We have always held high the banner of peace, cooperation and justice in international affairs, worked together to safeguard the overall interests of developing countries, and worked to make the international order more equitable and reasonable. At present, in the face of rising hegemonism, unilateralism and power politics, China and Tanzania maintain communication, coordination and close cooperation on international occasions, thus becoming an important force in promoting multilateralism and upholding the multilateral system. Tanzania has spoken out for China in a variety of ways and expressed its strong support on issues concerning China’s core interests such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and human rights, for which China is deeply grateful.
At present, both China and Tanzania are at a critical stage of their respective development. China is about to eliminate absolute poverty and complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. China is taking more solid steps toward the “Chinese dream” of great national rejuvenation. Tanzania entered the group of middle-income economies five years ahead of schedule, and is working tirelessly to achieve its Development Vision 2025 goals and economic independence. In the new historical period and in the face of new historical opportunities, China and Tanzania will unswervingly support each other’s development and progress by adhering to the tradition of friendship and the spirit of cooperation as they have done for more than 50 years. China will seize the opportunities brought by the implementation of the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit and the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19, integrate the Belt and Road Initiative with the implementation of Tanzania’s development strategy, continue to strengthen policy communication and strategic coordination, and enhance exchanges in governance and development experience with Tanzania. It will also expand practical cooperation with Tanzania in various fields so as to promote trade and investment, strengthen the cooperation in infrastructure, technology transfer and human resources development, so as to help Tanzania turn its resource advantages into development momentum and bring more development opportunities and tangible benefits to its people.
Let us, at this memorable moment, follow the path of rock-solid China-Tanzania friendship blazed by President Nyerere, Premier Zhou Enlai and other older generation leaders of our two countries, and work towards the goal of achieving more results from win-win cooperation and common development.