H.E. Benjamin W. Mkapa, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania described the relations between Tanzania and China as having “transcended the traditional government to government contacts and extended to people to people cooperation, to the extent that the people of Tanzania and China call each other ‘RAFIKI’ which means ‘friend’ in Kiswahili”. There couldn’t have been a better summary of the assessment of the unique and firm friendship that has existed over the times between the states and peoples of the United Republic of Tanzania and the People’s Republic of China.
The two countries have enjoyed a very special relationship that dates back from the days of the generation of leadership of the founding fathers of these nations, namely the late Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere and Abeid A. Karume on the part of Tanzania; Chairman Mao Zedong. ?Premier Zhou Enlai and later Supreme Leader Deng Xioping on the part of China.
It is indeed gratifying to note with pride that over the whole of this period, the cordial and friendly relations and cooperation between Tanzania and China have been continuously growing in strength and scope, thanks to the firm commitments of one leadership generation after another on both sides to maintain and take them to higher levels. In line with this trend of events, the current generation of leadership under President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete on the Tanzanian side and President Hu Jintao on the Chinese side have reaffirmed in word and action their commitments to strengthen further the bond of our of friendship. The very recent exchanges of visits between leaders of our two countries have been caped by Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Tanzania in June 2006 and the visit to China of President Kikwete in November 2006, when he also attended the Forum on China – Africa Cooperation Summit in Beijing followed by the state visit in April 2008.
There can thus, be no doubt over the high level of sustainability our friendship and cooperation have reached. And this is not by mere fluke. Our two countries have over all these changing times pursued similar socio-economic policies and followed similar paths to development, albeit at slightly different tones and paces. Tanzania’s policy of Ujamaa and Self Reliance (a brand of African socialism tailored to suit the realities of Tanzania) is for intent and purpose similar to the Chinese policy of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. Tanzania’s economic liberalization policy is akin to the Chinese opening up policy. Even the current Tanzania’s three pronged motto of New Zeal, New Vigor and New Speed has a lot in common with the Chinese promulgation of the Three Represents.
Further to those common thinkings at the political level, China and Tanzania have always shared similar views, taken common positions and supported each other at the international arena. During the period of decolonization of Africa, China stood firmly behind the plight of the oppressed African. China was among the very first countries of the world (clearly the first Asian country) to come out boldly in the open to recognize the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution. Also, when Tanzania was spear-heading the liberation struggle, notably in the Southern African region, China was always there in the ready for moral and material support. To date, China stands out to be Tanzania’s most reliable ally of all times.
On her part, Tanzania was boldly and relentlessly in support of China until the cherished right of the People’s Republic of China to be reinstated permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations was secured. Tanzania has also never wavered in her support to the One China policy until it has gained wide international acceptance.
Those are but only a few of the very many examples of icons that make the China – Tanzania friendship and cooperation unique. In Tanzania, you find many monumental symbols of this camaraderie.
This cordial and friendly relationship was not restricted to political and diplomatic relations alone. It was for the first time translated in economic terms by the establishment in the 1960s of the Tanzania-China Friendship (Urafiki)Textile Company which carries the banner of close cooperation between Tanzania and China.
Furthermore, it was China which took over the offer to construct the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA) in the 1970s when developed countries turned the project down, setting a good living example of Chinese selflessness to Tanzania. In this project, China again lived up to the spirit of the adage “a friend in need is a friend indeed” with respect to Tanzania.
Other highly significant and conspicuous symbols of Chinese friendly support to Tanzania include the Amaan Stadium in Zanzibar built in the 1970s, housing schemes in Zanzibar built from the 1990s to date, the Dodoma Urban Water Rehabilitation and Chalinze Water Supply Projects completed in 2003. Also significant are the China-Tanzania Shipping Company (SINOTASHIP) and the Chinese Medical Teams which are regularly renewed on both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.
Most recently completed is the construction of the ultra-modern Olympic standard National Stadium in Dar es Salaam which is part of a bigger sports complex co-financed by our two governments at an estimated total cost of 56.4 million dollars.
Relations between China and Tanzania have over the times reached down to the people themselves. It is so encouraging and indeed satisfying that the intimacy that started with Nyerere and Mao and consistently taken up and enhanced by all the generations of leaderships that followed has ultimately been captured by the ordinary Chinese and Tanzanians themselves. Go to Guangzhou and you will find curious Tanzanian traders busy bargaining on Chinese products to send back home, the distance and their limited business capitals not-withstanding. On the other hand, go to Tanzania and you will find Chinese ranging from street hawkers to world class investors. Consciously or not, these people are bringing our countries closer together and cementing our relations more firmly, thus enlivening the dreams of the great founding fathers of our nations.
In 2002, the China Council for Promotion of Trade (CCPIT) participated for the first time in the Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF).? In 2006 China was represented by 15 companies in that annual event that takes place in the month of July.? From then, Chinese participation in DITF has become a tradition.
On the other hand, of recent, Tanzanian business persons have visited the Guangzhou Chinese Export Commodity Fair. Some 190 Tanzanians visited the Fair in April, 2005; 170 in October, 2005 and 184 in April, 2006.? Tanzania participation in a number of trade and travel fairs has become customary.
The cooperation that started on the political and diplomatic arenas has thus grown and extended to the economic and commercial spheres.
Most of Tanzania’s exports to China enjoy China’s Preferential Tariff treatment.? These include cotton, sisal, sesame seeds, wet goat skins, seashells, waste plastics and sea weeds. A lot more are on offer that Tanzanians can make use of this facility.
The positive business environment in Tanzania has already been noticed by Chinese investors. China has jumped from a novice to be among the top ten investors in Tanzania.
Most of the Chinese projects are in the construction sector while the remaining are medium and small scale projects, mainly in the areas of manufacturing, textile and natural resources including logging.? Bigger Chinese investors are now coming up for investment in the mining, energy and agriculture sectors.
Under the FOCAC arrangement of cooperation, Tanzania hopes to benefit from Chinese FDI, technology, expertise and experience in the following major areas:
- Agricultural Sector
- Irrigation farming.
- Water harvesting to minimize dependence on rains.
- Agricultural production and agro-processing industries.
- Revival of dormant cashew nut processing and cotton ginning factories and the establishment of new ones.
- Manufacturing Sector
- Assembly and production of diesel engines.
- Production of farm implements including small tractors and power tillers.
- Production of building materials including glass sheet, aluminum and metal products for low cost housing schemes.
- Tourism Infrastructure
Due to its many unique tourism attractions like Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti National Park, the Spice Islands of Zanzibar and many more, Tanzania is fast becoming a favored tourist destination for Chinese.? Therefore, there are ample investment opportunities in tourism infrastructure like hotels, restaurants and tour services.
- Scientific and Technological Sector
- Establishment of Economic Development Zones (EDZs)
- Infrastructure Development
- Transportation: Toll roads; light and heavy rail systems and railway equipment; the establishment, expansion and rehabilitation of airports.
- Energy: Power generation such as independent power plants (IPPs); power transmission and distribution; as well as oil and gas exploration and production and transportation (pipelines).
- Telecommunications: International cable links; satellite communications and fixed lines expansion.
- Bulk Water Supply: Water reservoirs, dams and pipelines.
- Services: urban and rural water supply and distribution, sanitation, solid waste disposal and water treatment projects.
Realization of these goals constitutes the current central mission and major obligation of the Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania in Beijing. Given the trend of events in the history of the relations between Tanzania and China on one hand, and the FOCAC framework of cooperation on the other, all these goals are achievable through a combination of bilateral government to government support, private sector investment and even trading between businesspersons of both sides.
In the spirit of mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchange enshrined in the China’s Africa Policy, it can be done. It has been possible in China; it should also be possible in Tanzania.
To this end, the Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania in Beijing avails itself of the opportunity to meticulously serve Chinese people and institutions who wish to start business and invest in Tanzania. On the other hand, we at the Embassy are very much open to receive all kinds of support; advice and cooperation that will help us achieve the noble task of extending the historical relations of our two countries further to our peoples for the mutual benefit of both sides.