Zambia's fourth President Rupiah Banda, who is the executive president of the Zambia-China Friendship Association, delivers a speech during the launch ceremony of the association in Lusaka, capital of Zambia, March 25, 2019. Zambia and China on Monday launched the Zambia-China Friendship Association aimed at strengthening bilateral relations. (Xinhua/Martin Mbangweta)
LUSAKA, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Zambia and China on Monday launched an association aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.
A launch ceremony for the Zambia China Friendship Association was attended by Zambia's first president Kenneth Kaunda, who is the honorary president of the association and Zambia's fourth president Rupiah Banda, who is executive president of the association.
It was also attended by Lin Yi, Vice-President of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries as well as Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Li Jie.
In remarks delivered during the launch, Kaunda said one of the goals of the association will be to strengthen grassroot ties between the peoples of the two countries.
Kaunda said as an advocate of Zambia's friendship with China, he was desirous to see it succeed, adding that Zambia and the rest of Africa have a lot to learn on how China has managed to lift itself out of poverty and grow into one of the world's economic powerhouses within four decades.
According to him, the association has a mammoth task to ensure it takes the relationship to greater heights, adding that Zambia must use the friendship with China to attain greater economic development.
On his part, Banda hailed the relationship that has existed since the pre-independence period.
He said China has shown that it was an all-weather friend to Zambia as evidenced when it financed the construction of the Tanzania Zambia Railway at a time the Asian nation was not economically developed and when western countries refused to come to Zambia's aid.
He commended China for sacrifices it made and has continued to make to help not only Zambia but other African nations.
The former Zambian leader said the association was a vehicle that will support ties at people-to-people level and that its formation was the culmination of the commitment to hard work between peoples of the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Chinese envoy hailed the launch of the association, saying the two countries have enjoyed a long history of profound friendship based on similar historical and development task.
According to him, frequent high-level visits and political trust between the two countries have been deepening and resulted in fruitful results.
The Chinese envoy said bilateral trade volumes between the two countries reached 5 billion U.S. dollars last year while China's direct investment to Zambia maintained a constant growth.
"The key to sound relations between countries lies in amity among the people. Indeed, friendship and goodwill between our two peoples provide solid foundation for the long-term growth of bilateral relations," he said.
The establishment of the association, he said, was a milestone in the two countries' bilateral relations which marks a new high level and hoped that the association will enhance and promote friendship and pragmatic cooperation between peoples of the two countries.