|Remarks at the Media Reception by Chinese Ambassador H. E. Mr. Zhao Yali|
This year marks Uganda's independence jubilee and establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Uganda.
China and Africa enjoy a long-standing friendship. Between 1950s' and 1970's, China and Africa had supported each other and worked together. China rendered a lot of support for African countries in their national independence and liberation struggles.
In 1971, Uganda and many African countries supported China in restoring its UN membership and status of UN Security Council. China cherishes the relations with African countries.
In the new century, with the establishment and development of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and the new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa, bilateral exchanges and cooperation in the political, economic, trade and cultural fields have been greatly boosted, making our political trust stronger, our shared interests closer and the friendship between our peoples deeper.
Progress has been made in debt cancellation, tariff exemption, and provision of concessional loans. China's investment in Africa has grown rapidly in recent years, surging from $490m at the end of 2003 to $14.7b in 2011.
Just as H. E. Jia Qinglin, Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese Political Consultative Conference, said at the opening of the 18th Session of AU summit last month, 'In recent years, relations between China and Africa have continued to make fresh progress on their traditional friendship. China pursues a win-win strategy of opening up, which means that China aims to develop itself amid the common development of all developing countries. We strive to enhance economic cooperation with Africa and accelerate African development through our own development.
In conducting cooperation with Africa, we adhere to the principles of mutual benefit and common development, making sure our assistance will be result-oriented, without strings attached.
According to a World Bank report, China's contribution to Africa's economic growth is 20%.
China was one of the first group of countries that officially recognized the independence of Uganda 50 years ago. On Oct 18, 1962, 10 days after Uganda declared independence, China established diplomatic relations with Uganda. Over the past half century, our bilateral relations have been strengthened tremendously.
Especially since the assumption of power of the National Resistance Movement, China and Uganda, based on principles of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect, have carried out sincere, friendly and productive cooperation.
Firstly, bilateral political relationship has since deepened. The frequent mutual visits by both countries' leaders play a vital role in promoting Sino-Uganda relations. President Museveni has visited China four times, and established friendship with leaders of three generations of China.
In 2001, Hu Jintao, then Vice President of P. R. C, visited Uganda. Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, visited in 2006, and Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, put Uganda as one of the first group countries in his trips abroad in 2009. In a short period of time since my arrival here, we have received Rt. Hon. Liang Guanglie, Defense Minister of P. R.C and Rt. Hon. Li Yuanchao, Minister of Department of Organization of China Communist Party. All the visits above, constantly, contributed to the enhancement of mutual political trust, laying down a solid foundation for the all-around and healthy development of China-Uganda relations.
Secondly, bilateral economic cooperation and trade have maintained a sound momentum of growth. At the beginning of establishment of diplomatic ties, there were very limited economic exchanges between the two countries. However, later on, we have seen a significant progress in trade and economic cooperation between China and Uganda.
From 1993 to 2011, the total amount of China's investment in Uganda reached $596m, and around 265 Chinese companies opened their business in Uganda, creating 28,000 job opportunities for the local people.
Last year, the amount of bilateral trade reached $400m, with China's export to Uganda amounting to $359m, increasing by 43.7%, and with Uganda export to China totaling $40m, jumping by 49.5%.
China unilaterally cancelled all the debts of interest-free loans before 2005 for Uganda. And from July 1 of this year, 95% of Uganda's goods could enter Chinese market duty free and tariffs free. In addition, we built, with Chinese financial assistance, some hallmark buildings such as Mandela National Stadium, Foreign Affairs Ministry, National Statistics Offices, and more recently, the Government office blocks.
Besides, the planned expressway between Entebbe International Airport and Kampala, which will use $350m Buyer's Credit from China Import and Export Bank, is expected to start work this year. The Uganda-China Friendship Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre, Kajjansi, has already been put into use. China has also donated anti-malaria drugs to Uganda and helped build the Naguru China- Uganda Friendship Hospital.
On oil cooperation, China National Offshore Oil Company, CNOOC, has already signed the farm-down agreement with TULLOW for the exploration of oil in Uganda. We hope CNOOC will start very soon its operation. Some Chinese companies have also bidded for the construction of Karuma Hydro Power Station.
Thirdly, the people to people exchanges have also increased significantly. Last year, our embassy issued over 10,000 visas to Ugandans and there were some thousands of Chinese who came to Uganda. This year, the China has offered around 280 different training slots for Uganda officials and university scholarships for Ugandan students.
The above achievements laid down a solid foundation for the cordial and friendly relations between the two countries. Political trust between the two sides has deepened steadily with cooperation in the economy, trade and other fields. The two sides have maintained close coordination on many international and regional issues.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this year marks the 50th anniversary of China-Uganda official ties. With a view to further strengthening our bilateral relations, we will make good use of this opportunity to organize a series of activities with the Uganda side for the celebration of this historical event.
Finally, I would like to highlight also the important role of media in promoting bilateral relations, not only in the area of inter-governmental affairs, but of people to people exchanges.
Chinese Embassy would like to work together with our friends from Ugandan media in enhancing our countries multilayer ties. I firmly believe that, under the joined efforts of China and Africa and within the framework of FOCAC, Sino-African and Sino-Ugandan relations will have an even brighter future.