On January 8, 2017, when jointly meeting with the press with Foreign Minister Harry Kalaba of Zambia in Lusaka, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the then Tanzania-Zambia railway (Taraza) was the “road of friendship” and the “road of freedom”. Today, China is willing to make joint efforts with Zambia and Tanzania to further build Taraza into a road of cooperation and prosperity.
Wang Yi noted that half a century ago, the elder generation of Chinese and African leaders jointly made the historic decision to build Taraza. At that time, the People’s Republic of China was very poor, but China tightened its belt and strived together with the African people to overcome numerous difficulties and completed Taraza in only 6 years, which the Westerners then believed was impossible. During the process, tens of thousands of Chinese workers crossed the ocean, of which more than 60 outstanding Chinese sacrificed their lives and slept forever in the African continent. The completion of Taraza has greatly encouraged the African people and played an important role in the cause of national independence and liberation of all countries. The railway was thus hailed as the “road of friendship” and the “road of freedom” in Africa.
Wang Yi said that one important reason why Taraza has become a monument of China-Africa friendship lies in the Taraza spirit featuring friendliness, solidarity and dedication, which has been condensed with sweat and blood from both sides. This spirit has always been an important link for China-Africa friendship and the promotion of China-Africa cooperation. In recent years, China-Africa relations have entered into a new stage of development. It is the primary task for both sides to seek win-win cooperation and common development. When President Xi Jinping visited Africa for the first time in 2013, he further refined the Taraza spirit into the African policy of “sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith”, and asked the two sides to implement the correct idea of upholding the values of friendship, justice and shared interests with more importance on the former during cooperation. President Xi Jinping added new epochal connotation to the Taraza spirit and opened up a broader and brighter future for China-Africa friendly cooperation.
Wang Yi pointed out that at present, the self-development of Africa and the environment of China-Africa cooperation have undergone great changes, and the operation of Taraza has also encountered many difficulties. To upgrade and revive Taraza and inject vitalities into it at an early date are in line with the common interests of the Chinese and African people, as well as are the common aspiration of both sides. Leaders of China, Zambia and Tanzania have reached important consensus regarding this, and China will once again assume its due responsibilities to make new contributions to the future development of Taraza. Our basic idea is, through comprehensively reforming the Taraza management system, effectively integrating railways and ports, and forging industrial and economic belts along the railway, to enable Taraza to become a road of cooperation and prosperity that drives the industrialization and agricultural modernization in Zambia, Tanzania as well as neighboring countries along the railway.
Wang Yi expressed that at that time, the Chinese and African people could build Taraza under such difficult conditions. Today, we have no reasons not to make it run faster and play a greater role. We are full of confidence in Taraza’s prospect.