The late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping bridged China with the rest of the world, Zambia's first president Kenneth Kaunda told Xinhua recently in an exclusive interview.
"Deng Xiaoping will be remembered as one of the greatest Chinese leaders. His reform and opening-up policy is regarded as a bridge connecting China with the rest of the world," said Kaunda, Zambia's first president from 1964 to 1991 following independence from Britain.
While recalling his association with former Chinese leaders Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, Kaunda said that while Mao liberated the Chinese people Deng enriched them and opened China to the world.
"They are all great men. The Chinese people should be proud of having such leaders," Kaunda said.
Kaunda said Deng was a great patriot. "The reform and opening-up led by him not only changed China, but also changed the whole world."
Deng attached great importance to education which, Kaunda said,has been of great significance to China's future.
He said Deng was a man of vision. He remembered that during his meeting with Deng in April 1980, the Chinese leader said: "It cannot be called socialism while the economy remains stagnant. It cannot be called socialism while people's living standards remain very low."
Kaunda highly lauded the friendship between China and Zambia saying he coined the phrase "China is our all-weather friend" when he visited China in 1967, a time when China itself was in difficulties.
During his meeting with Mao Zedong, Mao announced China's help in constructing the famous Tanzania-Zambia railway to support Africa's independence movement.
During a meeting with Kaunda in March, 1988, Deng said the phrase of "all-weather friend" was particularly appropriate to describe bilateral relations between the two countries.
On the subject of China's future, Kaunda said that while managing and developing a huge country with 1.3 billion population is a tough job, China's efforts to attain prosperity have progressed well.
"I firmly believe that China will have a bright future and will contribute significantly to the world in the coming years."