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Malawi gains from China

By Chris Nhlane (People's Daily Online)    16:05, September 27, 2019

My name is Chris Nhlane and I’m a journalist working with The Nation newspaper of Malawi. Malawi is a small landlocked country in southern Africa with a population of 17.5 million people. Our capital city is called Lilongwe and is located right in the heart of the country.

In my local language, Chichewa, Malawi means flames of fire and we are nicknamed "The Warm Heart of Africa" because Malawians are friendly.

Before coming here in February 2019, I had mixed feelings and many reservations about China because I had previously heard so many terrible things about the country from some international media outlets.

I had some knowledge about China through Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li movies that I used to watch when I was a young boy.

Malawian journalist Chris Nhlane (Photo by People's Daily Online)

But some of these narratives said that China is developing African countries to colonize them through debt traps. However, even some African leaders dismissed the debt trap claims.

During my stay in China, I’ve also visited the countryside outside Beijing where village communities enjoy traditional culture, food and other traditions just like in certain rural areas back home in Malawi.

Of course, the challenge I face in China is language as the number of people speak or understand English is limited. Better still, China has developed many digital communication and translation applications that simplify communication.

So, all I'm saying is, it takes one to live in China to realize that it’s a beautiful country and that most anti-China narratives that many Africans read on social media and other news outlets are false.

Malawi and China now enjoy cordial relations established in 2007, centred on the economy, trade, infrastructure, health, education, people-to-people exchanges, culture, sports and media, among others.

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to strengthen China’s collaboration with other countries by offering alternatives to development gaps in Africa and other continents through aid, policy coordination, connectivity, and more.

During an interview on the sidelines of the ministerial summit on the implementation of the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation action plan in June,

Malawi’s Foreign Ministry Secretary Ben Botolo said Malawi is reviewing cooperation options with China for win-win outcomes. Suffice to say even though Malawi is yet to sign up to the BRI,

China has already implemented numerous development projects since 2007. These include the new Parliament building in Lilongwe, the Malawi University of Science and Technology and the 106 km Karonga-Chitipa tarmac road that was neglected before and after independence in 1964. There is also the Bingu International Conference Centre, a luxury hotel and the Bingu National Stadium which have helped the image of Lilongwe.

And as part of cherishing essential development projects constructed in Malawi by China, the Malawi government through its central bank—the Reserve Bank of Malawi, engraved some of these infrastructures on its currencies.

For example, a K2000 banknote which currently is Malawi's highest denomination bears the features of Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) built in Thyolo District while another currency, a K200 banknote has a printed description of the New Parliament building that lies in the capital, Lilongwe.

Statistics from China’s Foreign Ministry show that trade between Malawi and China accounted for 250 million US dollars in 2018. Surely, with projects like these and many other forms of assistance that Malawi gains from China, one can only commend Beijing for striving to create a community of shared future among the peoples of China and Malawi as well as Africa and the whole world.

*Chris Nhlane is a Malawian journalist working for The Nation newspaper and is one of the participants for the 2019 China Africa Press Centre Programme. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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