|Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao (L, Back) and his Zambian counterpart Guy Scott (R, Back) attend a signing ceremony of the bilateral economic and trade cooperation agreements after their meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, June 18, 2014. (Xinhua/Peng Lijun)|
LUSAKA, June 18 -- Visiting Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao said Wednesday that his four-day official visit to Zambia was aimed at lifting bilateral cooperation to a higher level.
During talks with his Zambian counterpart Guy Scott, Li said the purpose of his visit, which started Wednesday, is to promote not only economic cooperation but also the cooperation between Zambia's governing Patriotic Front and the Communist Party of China.
The Chinese vice president said while the two countries have enjoyed cordial relations for the last 50 years, he was hopeful that his visit will cement and push their relations to a higher level.
The China-Zambia relations of profound friendship were created by the older generations of leaders of the two countries, such as China's late Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai, and Zambia's first president Kenneth Kaunda, Li said.
He added that the bilateral ties have withstood profound changes in the international landscape in the past five decades.
The past cooperation between the two countries has brought concrete benefits to both sides, said Li.
In 2013, the bilateral trade hit 3.8 billion U.S. dollars, and the Chinese investment totaled 2.6 billion dollars, creating about 50,000 jobs in Zambia.
A total of 1,020 Zambian students were studying in China and 3,566 Zambians learning Chinese at the Confucius Institute at University of Zambia in 2013.
The Zambian vice-president also lauded the relations with China, saying China has been an all-weather friend of the Zambian people for a long time.
He said China financed the construction of a railway line that links the country to the Tanzania port of Dar-es-Salaam when Zambia needed a route to export and import goods.
Sixty Chinese workers died during the construction of the railway, and Zambia has set up a two-hectare memorial park in remembrance of the Chinese nationals.
Li and Scott held closed-door talks and signed eight agreements on Chinese grants and loans to Zambia and bilateral cooperation projects.
Apart from having discussions with his Zambian counterpart, the Chinese vide-president will on Thursday have an audience with President Michael Sata, a working meeting with Wynter Kabimba, secretary-general of Zambia's governing party, the Patriotic Front, as well as pay a courtesy call on President Kaunda.
He will also visit an art exhibition depicting 50 years of the China-Zambia relations and tour some development projects around the Zambian capital.