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Chinese-built railway aids Tanzania's trade aspirations

By Li Lianxing (China Daily)

09:22, March 25, 2013

Tazara was not the first construction work China carried out in Africa, but the symbolism of China-Africa friendship during hard times created by this railway is irreplaceable and has been treasured by the two peoples for nearly half a century.

It played a vital role in breaking the economic isolation of the east African country and building bridges between countries at the time, but it also suffered a negative effect later because of the country's controversial mismanagement.

"We could see the significance the railway could play in the future and we have never left," said Wang Lei, general manager of China Civil Engineering Construction Corp in East Africa, whose predecessor was the foreign aid office of the Ministry of Railways of China in the 1960s and 70s, which built this railway over a 10-year period.

He said 15 training programs have been accomplished since the completion of the railway in 1976. His workers have conducted maintenance work, including installing spare parts, providing carriages and funds, transferring technology as well as training staff.

Several leading companies and research institutes have been appointed by the Chinese government to investigate the current condition of the railway with a view to updating it.

Today, not far from the terminal of this railway in the streets of Dar es Salaam, Chinese and Tanzanian flags hang along the roads and huge signs are set up with a Chinese man's portrait and the word "Welcome" in Swahili. He is the man who might bring in more Tazara railways and also more investment and opportunities to this region over the next few years — the newly elected Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is making his first visit to three African countries as president.

Visiting Africa has been a tradition for a new Chinese leader to show friendship and comprehensive interconnectedness, but this time Xi is not just coming as a gesture but with a program to tackle many challenges that lie ahead for the two nations.

Integration, industrialization, peace and security, as well as sustainable development, are all buzzwords in African countries. They also could be the guidelines for China's engagement in Africa if China wants its interests there to be more efficient and sustainable.

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