Zambia
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President Hichilema finally holds talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping

President Hakainde Hichilema has finally held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, almost 10 months since taking over the presidency.

The phone conversation was held on Tuesday in a move many analysts would feel will help smoothen relations between Lusaka and Beijing.

Many feared that President Hichilema’s administration was warming up too much and too quickly to the western powers at the expense of long held relations with China.

In the discussion, President Xi said China is ready to push ties with Zambia to higher levels.

He said China attaches great importance to its relations with Zambia, and is ready to work with Zambia to consolidate and deepen their friendship and push bilateral ties to higher levels and broader areas.

President Xi added that over the past year, China-Zambia relations have maintained positive momentum adding that China will promote the entry of more Zambian products into the Chinese market, especially high-quality agricultural goods.

He told President Hichilema that China will also strengthen counter-epidemic control cooperation with Zambia.

President Xi hailed the all-weather friendship between China and Zambia and stressed that the bilateral friendship is unbreakable.

And on his Facebook page, President Hichilema said it was a pleasure to speak to President Xi.

“It was a pleasure to speak this morning with His Excellency President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China, about the array of opportunities on the horizon for our two nations. Zambia and The People’s Republic of China share a deep and longstanding relationship, and we are committed to building on these strong foundations to create a brighter future for our people,” he wrote.

“We discussed the potential for greater cooperation and win-win partnerships, the abundant investment opportunities that Zambia offers, and our shared commitment to working together to address and resolve the debt issue.”

He added, “As our two nations take bold steps together in the spirit of genuine partnership, we look ahead to a new chapter of enhanced bilateral relations, which will improve the lives of our citizens for generations to come.”

The talks were widely reported on Chinese state television.

The Chinese media report did not mention Zambia’s external debts.

In 2020, Zambia became the first nation to default in the COVID-19 era.

As of end-2021, Zambia’s external debt reached $17.27 billion, of which China held $5.78 billion.