ON 1 October, China will mark the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. On this joyful occasion, I would like to, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Namibia, extend festive greetings to my fellow Chinese in Namibia.
The past year carries special significance in terms of China’s development. Facing a complex and challenging development environment both at home and abroad, we have stayed committed to the general principle of making advances while maintaining a stable performance and followed the “dynamic zero-Covid” policy. To the greatest extent possible, we have ensured overall economic and social development, and the national economy registered a stable recovery. In the first half of 2022, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 2.5% year-on-year, and the total value of the imports and exports of goods increased by 9.4% year-on-year.
In the past year, we have successfully hosted the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The crewed spaceship Shenzhou-14 has been launched for the completion of the assembly and construction of China’s space station, which will be another breakthrough in China’s space industry. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland. Safeguarded by “one country, two systems,” Hong Kong is now at a critical stage of moving from chaos to stability, and then to greater prosperity.
We have resolutely pushed back the attempts of a few countries to interfere in China’s domestic affairs, and to provoke or pressure China through issues concerning Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, maritime affairs and human rights, thus demonstrating our steadfast resolve and strong confidence in defending our country’s sovereignty, security and development interests.
This year will witness a major political agenda of China, i.e. the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). At this congress, the CPC will fully review the major achievements made and valuable experience gained in China’s reform and development endeavours. It will also formulate programmes of action and overarching policies on the journey ahead in the new era.
At this critical juncture, we can watch with great pride the historical changes in China’s national construction and people’s livelihoods over the past five to 10 years, and sense the strong power of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a new era in moving society forward.
We have continued to strengthen the party’s overall leadership, and the centralised and unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee.
We have put the people and their lives first, and launched an all-out people’s war to curb the Covid-19 pandemic, protecting people’s lives and health to the maximum extent.
Over the past nine years, China’s GDP expanded at an average annual growth rate of 6.6%, higher than the growth pace of the global economy. China’s average contribution to global economic growth exceeded 30%, ranking first across the world. In 2021 alone, China’s economic aggregate accounted for 18.5% of the world’s total, the second- largest in the world.
In the past year, China-Africa cooperation has forged ahead, despite the ups and downs of the pandemic. Last November, the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was successfully held in Dakar, capital of Senegal. While attending the conference via video link, President Xi Jinping highlighted the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, spelt out four proposals for building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, and announced nine programmes for cooperation with Africa. This is a full expression of China’s sincerity in supporting Africa’s development and revitalisation.
This year marks both the 20th anniversary of the founding of the African Union (AU) and the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the AU. Celebrations were held on both sides.
One year on, trade and investment between China and Africa rose against the tide, and the Global Development Initiative (GDI) proposed by President Xi Jinping has been synergised with the AU Agenda 2063 and development strategies of African countries.
We have jointly launched an Initiative on Partnership for Africa’s Development, formulated a China-Africa Partnership Plan on Digital Innovation, set up a platform for China-Africa private investment promotion, and opened “green lanes” for African agricultural exports to China in a bid to help Africa with faster post-Covid recovery. China-Africa joint centres for modern agrotechnology exchange, demonstration and training, Quality African Products Online Shopping Festival and other projects have progressed steadily, showcasing the vitality of China-Africa cooperation.
At the Coordinators’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the 8th Ministerial Conference of FOCAC this August, State Councilor Wang Yi announced that since the last FOCAC Ministerial Conference, over three billion has been delivered out of the 10 billion US dollars of credit facilities pledged to African financial institutions, and nearly US$2.5 billion of loans were channelled to Africa’s priority programmes.
More than US$2 billion of the US$10 billion of trade finance has been allocated, and China’s imports of African goods within seven months have reached US$70.6 billion. Chinese companies have invested 2.17 billion US dollars in Africa.
China is also prepared to, through the two Trusts of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), re-channel US$10 billion of its SDR to Africa, and encourage the IMF to direct China’s contributions to Africa.
In addition, China will waive 23 interest-free loans to 17 African countries which were due by the end of 2021, and has decided to, within this year, provide a new tranche of food assistance to the 17 African countries in need.
In the post-Covid era, China-Namibia relations and cooperation in various fields are regaining momentum. China continues its support for Namibia’s efforts in combating Covid-19, and has pledged 1.2 million doses of vaccines free of charge.
During the pandemic, Zhejiang Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine and the Walvis Bay Hospital became paired hospitals, and the former will provide equipment and technical support for the latter in the near future.
New progress has been made in bilateral exchanges and cooperation in economic, political and cultural fields.
In 2021, the total trade volumes between China and Namibia reached US$1.136 billion, with a year-on-year increase of 44.6%. China is also the largest source of foreign investment in Namibia, accounting for 42.4% of the total Foreign Direct Investment to Namibia.
The two countries are negotiating for the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, and striving to promote the export of deep-sea red crabs and grapes to China. The two sides are also discussing the signing of an agreement on mutual visa exemption, which, once concluded, will greatly facilitate bilateral personnel exchanges and promote tourism and the economic development of Namibia.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Husab and Rossing uranium mines operated by Chinese companies have never stopped or reduced their production. They amount to the mainstay of Namibia’s economic growth.
In the first half of 2022, China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) had virtual meetings with the National Assembly and National Council of Namibia, respectively, enhancing mutual understanding between the legislatures from both countries. In July, Ambassador Xu Jinghu, then Special Representative of the Chinese government on African Affairs, visited Namibia, kicking off the resumption process of offline bilateral exchanges.
Exchanges and cooperation between local authorities have not been interrupted, even at the peak of the pandemic. This year, the Zambezi Farmers Workshop was successfully held. Namibian representatives from the Khomas region attended the Jiangsu International Friendship Cities Week for Belt and Road Cooperation. These have fully demonstrated the deep friendships between the local governments of the two countries. Leading officials at all levels of the ruling parties of the two countries conducted exchanges of governance experience through various seminars.
To meet Namibia’s needs in infrastructure, aerospace technology and education, China is now executing aid projects such as Section 2B of the road linking Windhoek and the Hosea Kutako International Airport, a satellite digital receiving ground station, 400 units of social housing, and the renovation and expansion of four rural schools in the north, some of which are already under construction. These projects will help to strengthen the capacity- building of Namibia’s authorities, promote local employment and train technical personnel.
Once completed, they will greatly promote economic and social development, and improve people’s livelihoods in Namibia.
The cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries have also taken on new highlights. The International Chinese Language Day hosted by the Chinese Embassy has attracted the attention and participation of the Namibian public. During the “Talk with Taikonaut” event, a Namibian high school student representative talked with Chinese astronauts in space.
This event stimulated the enthusiasm of Namibian teenagers to explore space, and study science and technology.
With the pandemic receding, Namibian students with Chinese scholarships are able to go to China to carry on their academic career. More than 60 Namibian students are enrolled in China’s universities this year. The Chinese teachers for the Confucius Institute in Namibia are also returning to Namibia, and Chinese language teaching is thriving again.
*Yang Jun is the charge d’affaires ad interim of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Namibia.