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China and Rwanda: A Reflection On National Day

by WANG Xuekun 
11:42 am

WANG Xuekun Chinese Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda (L) after presenting credentials to President Paul Kagame(R) August 2022

The forthcoming October 1st marks the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Over the past 73 years, China has made remarkable achievements in economic, political, cultural, social and ecological development. China has achieved the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects on schedule, and has embarked on a new journey of building a modern socialist country in all respects. China always pursues an independent foreign policy of peace, adheres to the path of peaceful development, contributes China’s plans for world peace and development, and promotes the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. I am deeply proud of the development achievements of my motherland.

When our National Day approaches, this moment of celebration and reflection inspires my strong feelings. As a Chinese envoy to Rwanda, I am also pleased to see Rwanda changes for the better as each day passes by. Looking back on the history of China and Rwanda, I see much in common.  

Firstly, both countries rose in ruins and revitalized. After the Opium War of 1840, China endured a history of humiliation for 100 years due to the aggression of Western powers. The Chinese nation suffered greater ravages than ever before. When PRC was founded in 1949, the country was extremely poor and blank. Under the leadership of Communist Party of China (CPC), the Chinese people started from scratch and built their country into a moderately prosperous society in all aspects. Rwanda had a colonial history of around 80 years, and was almost reduced to ruins in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) saved the country and led the Rwandan people in social and economic rebuilding with a great success. Phoenix nirvana, born of fire.

Secondly, both countries won liberation at a heavy cost. The Chinese people, under the leadership of CPC, waged bitter struggles against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism, and made huge sacrifice. China suffered a casualty of 35 million in the war against the Japanese aggression alone.  As for Rwanda, about 1 million Rwandans perished during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, and thousands of soldiers sacrificed for the liberation. Our two countries’ liberation was hard-won, and should be cherished. Our independence and sovereignty should not be undermined by any outside forces under any pretext. 

Thirdly, both countries created miracles of their own. China created two major miracles in past 73 years. One is the rapid economic development unseen by the world before. China’s GDP rose from less than 20 billion US dollars in 1949 to about 18 trillion US dollars in 2021, ranking the second largest economy in the world. China realized industrialization, a process took major developed countries more than 200 years to finish, and has become the global manufacturing center. China now leads the world in areas such as infrastructure construction, new energy, satellite navigation, 5G and quantum communications. The second miracle is the long-term social stability. The good governance of China is mainly attributable to the effective leadership of CPC and a government with the people as the masters of their own country. It stands in striking contrast with the chaos of the West, especially as mirrored by the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. 

When the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda happened, few may expect this country to recover from the holocaust. Even fewer may foresee its sustained high-speed economic development in more than two decades, and a stable, thriving society. Rwanda is striving for the vision to become a mid-income country, and its ambitions to become a financial center, a digital doorway, an aviation hub and a major tourist destination of Africa, are gradually coming true. Rwanda is among the safest countries and the most honest governments in Africa, with an effective leadership of RPF and such Home-Grown Solutions as Umganda and national political consultation in place.     


 Fourthly, both countries strive for benefits of their people. The CPC made it clear that its goal is to satisfy the people’s aspirations for a better life, and it is committed to a people centered philosophy of development. China has lifted 770 million people out of poverty, a great achievement widely recognized by the international community and a significant contribution to global poverty reduction. China’s environmental protection endeavors have seen sweeping and transformative changes. The amount of blue skies, clear waters and green lands increases largely, people’s living environment improves obviously. China believes common prosperity is the essential requirement of socialism, and is translating this belief into action. 

The RPF’s “citizen-centered” concept is highly compatible with CPC’s governance concept. As a least developed country, Rwanda leads many developing countries in terms of primary school enrolment rate, average life expectancy, medical care coverage, household electricity access, etc.. The long-term social stability, in turn, reflects Rwandan people’s satisfaction towards their government.  

Among the great achievements of China in past 73 years, is its partnership with Africa. As rightly put by the white paper “China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals” released at the eve of the 8th Ministerial Meeting of FOCAC in 2021, “China and Africa will always be a community of shared future”, “Developing solidarity and cooperation with African countries has been the cornerstone of China’s foreign policy, as well as a firm and longstanding strategy”. Africa is, and will always be a valuable asset of China.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Rwanda 51 years ago, both the breadth and depth of our bilateral relations have been expanding. We respect each other and treat each other as equals, and have built high-level political mutual trust. The economic and trade cooperation between our two countries is increasingly close, and our people-to-people exchanges are deepening. We support each other in international affairs, and help each other in the fight against COVID-19, which truly reflects the brotherhood of sharing weal and woe.

At present, our bilateral relations are at a stage of rapid development. Our interests are increasingly integrated, and cooperation in cross-border e-commerce, “smart education”, digital economy and other emerging areas is advancing. The Belt and Road construction, the FOCAC and the Global Development Initiative present an important opportunity for us to further our cooperation. We look forward to aligning our development strategies, deepening our practical cooperation based on needs for economic and social development of Rwanda, and benefiting our people. 

As a tradition, I payed my tribute to the Cemetery of Chinese Martyrs in Rulindo at the eve of China’s National Day. Ten Chinese compatriots who gave their lives to building of Rwanda were laid to rest there. What I feel after the visit, is a sense of responsibility and a burden on my shoulder. I am determined to respond to the call of the era and ready to work harder in discharging my duties, so as to elevate China-Rwanda relations to a new level.

WANG Xuekun Chinese Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda   

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