CHINA and Tanzania continue to build bridges and friendship.
The two countries’ persistent and honest commitment to shared prosperity in the context of enabling countries to achieve economic revolution and build relevant economies in our times cannot be overemphasized. The said friendship is highly needed now than ever before.
Indeed, it is necessary not only because it has endured for a long-time, but it is a friendship based on both partner states seeking to address both sides’ challenges. In Tanzania’s case, common as they tend to surface, the challenges include but are not limited to those fed by increasing poverty and joblessness or underemployment.
Today, if I may emphasize, the single most important matter facing Africans and the world when it comes to shared prosperity is the need to generate enough jobs and employment, particularly for our young people. So, it is eight years today March 2021 as both China and Tanzania look back to Sino-African friendship.
Both countries have great memories of the Chinese President Xi Jinping visit to Tanzania. The visit aimed at strengthening this long history of Africa and China relationship. Today this column is dedicated to assessing and acknowledging the effectiveness or achievements of the strategies in place for making the said friendship real and fruitful.
Important as it is, and on the basis of the fast changing global dynamics, the achievements should begin with a sincere appraisal and comment on China and Tanzania’s commitment to ensure that diplomacy is well shaped and set to deal with any emerging challenge of friendship. To have a well-functioning diplomacy is what has been key to all the achievements.
Without it nothing could have been born out of this friendship. The diplomacy under discussion is clear to both sides. It was well articulated and indeed built on Xi philosophy cemented on China’s desire to build strong ties and cooperation. Gladly so, and to these two doctrines, comes the cornerstone for both - to see friendship continue to be clearly result oriented.
Xi’s emphasis on both intimate friendships between the Chinese and African people as well as acting in good faith is important in all this. It reflects on Jinping’s innovations as China’s leader since 2012. Xi’s coming to Dar es Salaam in 2013 was crucial in that he came to share his contributions to the way China sees and wishes to interact with Africa, especially Tanzania and the world.
In our view, this friendship is set to grow for the well-being of both countries, especially now when the world continues to experience an era characterised by declining war and rising prosperity and opportunities opening up for increased interdependence and global cooperation.
The eight years’ commemoration of the joint efforts to strengthen friendship, between Xi and the then President Kikwete, and then well carried out by the late President Magufuli, is a great opportunity to remind both countries to remember that given the challenges faced by citizens from both countries, more still needs to be done, and for me the task ahead is still urgent and complex.
But what exactly are the achievements of this long-time friendship? Well, they are many and diverse. A record success in projects such as those of environment, facilitation and provision of adequate infrastructure, amenities, public services, access to education, health, infrastructure, clean drinking water, wastewater management, and to factors and boosters of production are simply some of these successes.
On the other side of the achievements, both countries have used their friendship to advance international cooperation that promotes and defends both countries’ interests, and is mutually beneficial and aligned to their national visions. I highlight this because it is quite easy to appreciate the things seen and forget those unseen, like that of two countries collectively promoting their common interests and positions in the international arena.
In this case, China should make sure that it respects Africa and Tanzania’s vision and aspirations and hence aligning her partnership appropriately, knowing that Tanzania and Africa have the capability to realise their full potential in development, culture and peace but also an ability to establish flourishing, inclusive and prosperous societies. This is quite an achievement.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca (AD 65), the Roman Stoic philosopher and statesman has a suitable wise saying to explain this China - Tanzania relationship. He once said; one of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.
And as for Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) the founding fathers of the United States, to this relationship he would say; no better relation than a prudent and faithful friend. The concept of ‘understand’ and ‘understood’ speaks more than one could think of.
It means this type of friendship where both countries are committed to each other and the success we noted earlier, does not relegate situations that demand attention, reform, and does not stop opportunities for expansion of both countries’ influence at the global platform. Well, all that said however, the two countries should not sit and relax.
Indeed, progress has been made, but building friendship needs more to be done. As we honour these eight years of strengthening Sino-African friendship, something which has been implemented with ambition and determination, there must be some lessons the two partners have learnt and will continue to learn.
On one side as China keeps finding reliable friends in Africa, those with a vast base of raw materials and a growing market and on the other as Africa opens the door for China, for them a reliable partner, economically stronger, but prepared to share with Africa experiences in its own scientific, technical, technological and economic success.
So there shall be need for both parties to first of all guard, and then to keep strengthening this friendship. Let the recorded achievements, successes and lessons learnt be their guiding posts. These will need to be applied with full commitment from the Chinese side and African participation be acknowledged.
To this end, one can only conclude by saying, relations between China and Africa continue to pace and get depth. The ongoing process of cementing this friendship, especially in the wake of the 21st century and more particularly in both the political and economic spheres, cannot be stopped.
In my view, the strategic and sustained partnership is simply charging ahead because both parties seem to follow the wisdom of Helen Adams Keller (1880-1968), an American author, disability rights advocate, political activist and lecturer who once wrote; I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light. Cheers
● Dr Alfred Sebahene, PhD Social Ethics Specialist and Anti-Corruption Consultant St John’s University of Tanzania PO Box 47 Dodoma, Tanzania Email Addresses: arsebahene2@ yahoo.co.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: +255 767 233 997