Speech by Mr Li Xuhang, Charge'd Affaires of the Chinese Embassy at the Reception for the 55th Anniversary of the Establishment of China-Kenya Diplomatic Relations
2018/12/18

Hon. Raphael Tuju, Cabinet Secretary without Portfolio, Secretary General of the Jubilee Party,

Hon. James Macharia, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development,

Hon. Aden Duale, Majority Leader of the National Assembly,

Hon. Shakeel Shabbir, Chairperson of the Kenya-China Friendship Group of the Parliament,

Hon. Richard Tong’i, Vice Chairperson of the Departmental Committee on Defense and Foreign Relations of the Parliament,

Your Excellency Sarah Serem, Ambassador-designate to China,

Ambassadors and High Commissioners,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

Good evening. Thank you all for celebrating with us this special occasion. On 14th December 55 years ago, the third day after Kenya’s independence, China established its diplomatic ties with Kenya. Here, I would like to take this opportunity to express my warmest congratulations on the 55th anniversary of Kenya's independence and the 55th anniversary of China-Kenya diplomatic ties.

 

55 years is only the blink of an eye in world history, but it was an extraordinary journey for China-Kenya relations, which is worth recalling and commemorating. The 40 photos exhibited at the hall have told us the vivid stories of the bilateral relations over the past 55 years.

 

The China-Kenya friendly exchanges date back to over 600 years ago. A fleet led by the great Chinese navigator Zheng He came to Mombasa, Lamu and Malindi, and brought along silk, porcelain and friendship. In our struggles for national liberation, China and Kenya supported and helped each other. In December 1963, Kenya declared its sovereignty and independence, and China was one of the first countries that recognized its independence and established diplomatic ties with Kenya. In this recent 55 years, the world experienced dramatic changes, including the cold war, the independence of African countries, the rising of developing countries, the end of cold war, the globalization, the new technological revolution. And in this 55 years, the relationship between China and Kenya has also experienced rapid development. In 2017, the bilateral relations were upgraded to a Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership, and are now playing an exemplary role in the China-Africa friendly cooperation.

 

This 55 years has witnessed our deepening mutual trust. The two sides have enjoyed frequent high-level exchanges. At least 21 Chinese state leaders including Presidents, Premiers and NPC chairmen, have visited Kenya, while over 14 Kenyan state leaders including Presidents and Deputy Presidents have visited China. Over the past 5 years, H.E Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta have met with H.E.Chinese President Xi Jinping for 6 times on bilateral or multilateral occasions, and developed very good working relationship and personal friendship. This year, H.E President Kenyatta visited China twice for the FOCAC Beijing Summit and the China International Import Expo. The two heads of state had in-depth exchanges, chartering the right course and injecting strong momentum for the development of China-Kenya relations.

 

This 55 years has witnessed our expanding pragmatic cooperation. More than 100 major projects have been completed, such as Moi stadium, Thika highway and Mombasa-Nairobi SGR. Currently, there are over 400 Chinese enterprises investing or operating in Kenya, creating nearly 130 thousand jobs locally. For the third year in a row, China has been Kenya’s largest trading partner, investor and contractor. In just one and half year after its operation, the SGR has carried 2.2 million passengers with the attendance rate of over 99% . All these great achievements cannot have been possible without the joint efforts of Chinese and Kenyans. Last week, we held an award ceremony for 55 outstanding Kenyans working in Chinese enterprises, and they will be rewarded with one-week travel and sight-seeing in China next April. Many of them are present today, including MC Lynette. Congratulations! You have not only won the honor and realized your dreams, but also created a miracle of China-Kenya cooperation with your Chinese and Kenyan colleagues.

 

This 55 years has witnessed the strengthening bond between Chinese and Kenyan people. The mutual support and sincerity in our people to people exchanges have borne rich fruits of happiness. Dr. Henry Rotich, director of Metrology and Testing of Kenya Bureau Of Standards (KEBS), has once studied in China with the Chinese Government Scholarship. When he came back, he brought not only a doctor’s degree, but also his love and family. He married a beautiful Chinese girl and formed a happy family and now have two adorable kids. Currently, over 2400 Kenyan students are studying in China. Since the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit in 2015, China has provided about 70 thousand training opportunities for Kenyan personnel. Today, We will also award the Chinese Ambassador Scholarship and introduce the new scholarship program. The opening of the direct flights between China and Kenya have brought two peoples closer. Kenya has become one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists. The Guangzhou-Nairobi flights have been increased from 6 to 10 per week and the attendance rate is almost 100%.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

China-Kenya relations are at a new historical point, with unprecedented opportunities and broad prospects. Facing the future, we will continue to uphold the principles of strategic mutual trust, win-win cooperation with shared benefits, and push forward the better alignment of Belt and Road Initiative, Eight Major Action Plans of FOCAC Beijing Summit with Kenya’s Big Four Agenda, so to achieve faster and greater development of China-Kenya relations.

 

We will work closely with the Kenyan brothers and sisters, to take practical measures to implement the consensus of the two heads of state. The newly signed SPS MOU has opened a new window for further balancing the bilateral trade. We shall seize the opportunity and push for expansion of Kenyan export of avocado, macadamia, flowers, tea and coffee to China. Meanwhile we will help Kenyan enterprises to find suitable Chinese partners for support in capital, technology, equipment and manufacturing capacity, so as to improve the additional value and competitiveness of their products. We also encourage credible Chinese enterprises like Twyford and AVIC to invest more in Kenya, to enhance Kenya’s industrialization and create more job opportunities, thus boosting the Big Four Agenda. At the mean time, we sincerely hope and we are fully confident that the Kenyan government will continue to improve the business environment, protect the legitimate rights of Chinese enterprises and citizens, so that Kenya can attract more Chinese investment.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

China-Kenya relations have stood the test of time and the achievements embody painstaking efforts of our two peoples. I’d like to take this opportunity to express my heart-felt appreciation to all of you here, and the bigger community you represent. My special thanks go to the Kenya-China Friendship Group and the Departmental Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations of the Parliament. Thank you for co-hosting this event with the Chinese embassy, and thank you for the contribution to the bilateral relations.

 

Our friends in Africa say that if you want to go fast, walk alone; and if you want to go far, walk together. My brothers and sisters, let’s walk together, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, towards a closer and brighter shared future of China-Kenya relations.

 

Asanteni sana! Heri ya mwaka mpya (Happy New Year)!

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