Kenya to deepen cultural cooperation with China: official

20:03, May 07, 2010      

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The Kenyan government has vowed to deepen further existing cultural cooperation with China based on mutual trust and positive engagement.

The country's Director of Culture in the Ministry of State for National Heritage and Culture Gladys Gatheru told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Friday the ties between the two countries have developed rapidly in recent years due to frequent high-level exchange visits. "The cordial relationship can be demonstrated by exchange visits at high level and friendly and fruitful cooperation in many areas of development," Gatheru said.

She said the East African nation has benefited immensely from the cultural ties with Beijing and cited training opportunities, marketing of cultural goods and services of the parties through cultural festivals and exhibitions; and gaining of experiences of the parties through exchange of experts and expertise in various fields.

According to Gatheru, Kenya is receiving support through programs and or project sponsorship through grants and appreciation of cultural diversity and narrowing of cultural differences with China. "Cultural exchange program encourage inter-cultural interaction and therefore encouraging the appreciation of diversities of culture through learning of the other party's culture. This also narrows the culture divide," she said.

The director of culture said her country attaches great importance to cultural relations with China, noting that Nairobi was ready to work with Beijing to further expand their cultural ties and deepen cooperation in the field of visits.

Kenya and China trade diplomatic relations have significant historical dimensions, starting with the Ming Dynasty.

Although China embraced communism and Kenya at independence adopted a capitalist system, their relations have largely remained cordial.

China was the fourth country to recognize Kenya's independence in 1963 when the two countries exchanged diplomatic representations.

The Chinese embassy in Kenya is arguably their largest embassy in Africa both in terms of size and employees.

Gatheru said Kenyan universities are developing Chinese language programs, there technical scientific cooperation while ministry of information officials attend exchange schemes.

"The specific significance of the cultural exchange program is that these programs are learning experiences through exchange of experts, exchange of cultural practitioners and cross exchange of ideas," she said.

"Experts and cultural practitioners are exposed to new skills, techniques and experiences that are beneficial to both as well as the development of the culture sector of both parties."

Gatheru lauded the relationship between the two countries, saying they were very "vibrant, friendly and cordial." "The cultural cooperation agreement is reviewed after every two years with inputs if any and understanding from both parties," Gatheru said.

China views Kenya as a gateway to the region and it has become a key focus of China's trade and economic strategy in Africa.

Being a war-free country with stable political situation has made Kenya an ideal regional base for Chinese investors to expand their business in Africa.

Currently China offers favorable loans to Kenya, builds roads, hospitals and schools for less developed areas, sets up malaria prevention and control centers as well as sends volunteers to train the locals.

Gatheru said deepening of bilateral and cultural cooperation and increasing cultural exchange programs are crucial in promoting further the cultural ties between the two friendly countries.

The official said increased exchange of information, skills, technology transfer and manpower between the two parties are also crucial in enhancing cultural ties. "There is however need to deepen cooperation between Kenya and China in areas of culture, communication, economy and politics," she said.

Gatheru said these will result into greater understanding and appreciation of each other's culture and more education opportunities and exchange of experts in culture sector. "A more developed cultural industry sector particularly the cultural tourism sector and appreciation of the cultural economic and political life of each party are some of the positive reflects that will result from increased cultural ties," Gatheru said.

She expressed the government's determination and commitment to enhance the existing cultural relations through exchange visits at all levels for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries.

Gatheru said President Mwai Kibaki's recent visit to China, the third one within a period of five years underscores the close relations between Kenya and China.

These relationships, she said, will continue to flourish characterized with mutual beneficial partnerships in various sectors including infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, trade and tourism.

Source: Xinhua


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