By Zhang Yiming, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Namibia
2020 is an important year in the history of China-Namibia relations. It marks the 30th anniversary of the independence of Namibia and the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Namibia.
It is also a crucial year for China to reach the goal of buildinga moderately prosperous society in all respects and eradicate absolute poverty. In the past 30 years, thanks to the commitment of the leaders of our two countries and the joint efforts from all walks of life, China-Namibia friendship has grown like a thriving forest.
The past 30 years witness continuous consolidation of China-Namibia friendship. Our two countries, though thousands of miles apart, had fraternal relations since a long time ago. As early as the 1960s, China, under the leadership of the communist party of China, provided material, diplomatic, and moral assistance for Namibia’s independence struggle led by SWAPO and thus, the two countries and two parties forged profound comradeship.
On 22 March 1990, the second day after Namibia formally declared its independence, China and Namibia established diplomatic relations. Since then, the friendship between the two countries has kept moving forward. Dr. Sam Nujoma, the founding father of Namibia, is a well-known old friend of Chinese people. He has visited China 17 times and developed friendship with many founding leaders of New China. His successor, Dr. Hifikepunye Pohamba and President Dr. Hage G. Geingob continue to strenghen the friendship with China.
In March 2018, President Hage Geingob paid a successful state visit to China, during which the relationship between the two countries was upgraded to Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership, which has ushered China-Namibia friendly cooperation into a new era.
The Communist Party of China and the SWAPO Party have always had close exchanges with each other. In 2018, the SWAPO Party drew merits from the experience of its counterpart and add “Developing Socialism with Namibian Characteristics” into its Party Constitution, echoing and shining brightly with the Chinese characteristics of socialism.
When the COVID-19 hit China, President Hage Geingob wrote a letter of sympathy to President Xi Jinping to give his fraternal support for Chinese people in fighting against the epidemic, demonstrating the all-weather friendship between the two countries.
The past 30 years witness the rapid development of China-Namibia’s pragmatic cooperation. The two countries have scored tremendous development in the cooperation of economic, trade and investment since the establishment of our diplomatic relations.
In recent years, under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the pragmatic cooperation between our two countries has entered a fast track. We often use “up to the sky and deep into the underground” to describe China-Namibia cooperation. “Up to the sky” refers to the space cooperation. Namibia accomodates the Space Tracking, Telemetry and Command station of China in the southern hemisphere, which has contributed a lot to China’s space industry.
“Deep into the underground” means Husab Uranium Mine, China’s largest single industrial investment project in Africa. It has effectively driven the local economic development and has become one trademark for China-Africa mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation.
China has been Namibia’s largest source of foreign investment since 2017, and replaced South Africa as the biggest export market for Namibia in 2018. Nowadays, on the dining table of Chinese, we can see Namibia’s high-quality free-range beef and fresh Atlantic oysters. In September 2018, President Geingob signed the “Belt and Road Initiative” cooperation MoU during the FOCAC Beijing Summit，another giant step in enhancing pragmatic cooperation with China.
The past 30 years witness the consolidation of people-to-people friendship between China and Namibia. As a Chinese saying goes, good friends feel close even when they are thousands of miles apart. The long distance cannot stop friendly exchanges of our two peoples. About 20000 Chinese tourists visit Namibia every year to experience the unique beauty of the Land of Brave.
Chinese space heroes Yang Liwei, Liu Boming, Liu Yang, and Chen Dong paid visits to Namibia and created Space mania among the local community. The crew of the CCTV program “Homeland，Dreamland” and the shooting team of “Glamorous Namibia” came here to film the scenes consecutively.
There are more and more volunteers and teaching bases of the Confucius Institute at UNAM around Namibia. Learning Chinese is becoming a new fashion among Namibians. Chinese Medical Team provides free medical services for more than 100,000 local people over the past 23 years.
More and more Chinese people choose to visit Namibia for sightseeing, entertaining and adventures. At the same time, more and more eminent Namibian students and intellectuals go to China for studying, training, and visiting. The friendship between the peoples of the two countries has reached a new high.
In particular, in recent days after the outbreak of COVID-19, I was touched by the warm-hearted acts and words from Namibian people. Some folk organizations voluntarily encouraged Wuhan to be strong on social media. A lot of local people left messages on my Facebook page to pray for China. After the epidemic spread to Namibia, Best Novo company in Jiangsu Province of China offered 1,000 quick-test kits for COVID-19 to the Namibia government, which is another vivid embodiment of the mutual-supporting friendship between China and Namibia.
In China, It is believed that a man is supposed to be mature when he reaches the age of 30. Therefore it is right to say that China-Namibia relations is right at a new historic starting point at the time of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Meanwhile, we have many reasons to expect that in the future, the two countries will carry forward our traditional friendship, maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges, strengthen coordination in both bilateral and multilateral matters, promote exchanges of governance experiences, enhance mutual political trust, so as to promote China Namibia Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership to a higher level.
It is also expected that the two countries would advance cooperation under the framework of FOCAC and Belt and Road Initiative on an equal footing to bring more tangible benefits to our two peoples. It is believed that our two peoples will continue to work hand in hand and enhance mutual understanding by exchanges and mutual learning.
We believe that as long as our two peoples treat each other with sincerity, we will be able to build a bridge between the peoples of the two countries. With history rolling forward and human civilization being passed down from generation to generation, we firmly believe the all-weather friendship between China and Namibia will flourish like the most beautiful flowers and always be engraved in the hearts of the people of the two countries!