It was pomp and pageantry earlier this week as Rwandan diplomats joined the Chinese Community in the country to celebrate the Chinese New Year of a rabbit, with commitment to further strengthen bilateral relations, for mutual developments.
The new year 2023 will officially begin on January 22 according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, however the Chinese community chose to celebrate earlier on January 12. Celebrations were held at the Chinese embassy in Kigali.
Each of the 12 animals that make up the Chinese zodiac—the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig—is named for a year in Chinese tradition.
In a cycle, the animals will therefore have a year set aside for them once every 12 years. This year of a rabbit, and symbolizes longevity, positivity, auspiciousness, wittiness, cautiousness, cleverness, deftness and self-protection.
The new year brings new fortunes, and in 2023, people can expect prosperity, hope, and calm, according to ambassador of China to Rwanda, Wang Xuekun.
Chinese citizens living in Rwanda, diplomats, and Rwandans, including government officials, attended the ceremony to ring in the new year.
It all started, more than 3000 years ago, Chinese people began celebrating, carrying with them their hopes for a better life and their pursuit of harmony, happiness, peace, and wealth.
“I would like to extend sincere new year greetings and best wishes to all our guests and, through you, to all friends in Rwanda, to the fellow Chinese community, wishing everyone happiness and success in the coming year,” Amb. Xuekun said.
“We will make a lasting contribution to Rwanda-China relations, and to the peace of the world,” he added.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) successfully held its 20th National Congress, elected a new Central Committee with President Xi Jinping at its core, and drew an ambitious plan for creating a modern socialist country in every way through a Chinese path to modernization, according to Wang when reflecting on the previous year.
China cancels debt of $7.1M
Last year was marked with fruitful cooperation between China and Rwanda in various sectors, including trade, infrastructure, agriculture, technology, health, education, and culture. To support economic development, China cancelled a debt of 7.1 $million, what Amb. Xuekun said it was done with the aim of supporting Rwanda’s growth.
“We started construction work to expand Masaka Hospital, which will become one of the biggest hospitals in Rwanda. Building of Nyabarongo II Hydropower Plant is underway. “Smart Education” Project secured financing and will connect over one thousand schools and universities,” Amb. Xuekun said.
He pointed out that more than 450 people benefited from 71 training programs conducted by China in different fields in the country.
According to Amb. Xuekun, the previous year, the Chinese economy remained the second largest in the world, with GDP expected to exceed $17.4 trillion.
The country reported various achievements including successfully hosting the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, completion of three space stations, China’s first large passenger aircraft, C919, was delivered, and the Baihetan hydropower station, the second largest in the world, that went into full operation.
Belt and Road partners grew by 20.4%
Over the years, China has made steady progress in advancing Belt and Road cooperation. In the first 11 months of 2022, China’s trade with Belt and Road partners grew by 20.4 percent.
According to Amb. Xuekun, China signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with another five countries, making the Belt and Road family a big gathering of 150 countries and 32 international organizations.
“China-Africa cooperation has been elevated across the board. We have accelerated the implementation of “the nine programs” of China-Africa cooperation, and 4 supported Africa’s self-sustained development. We have donated vaccines and provided food assistance to Africa,” he added.
Last year, the country was applauded for supporting the inclusion of the African Union in G20 and to encourage Africa to play a bigger global role.
At the bilateral level, in 2021, China and Rwanda celebrated 50 years of long bilateral relations and cooperation which dates back to 1971.
Rwanda considers China as a strong partner that has contributed to the socio-economic development of our country in various sectors that are key priorities including infrastructure, health, energy and education, according to Vincent Biruta, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
For example, in terms of trade and investment, China is one of the top trading partners of Rwanda, with imports and exports equivalent to $800M, in 2022.
“I wish to reiterate the Government of Rwanda’s commitment to work closely with the Government of China for the development of our countries and for the search for solutions to global challenges,” Biruta said.
“Rwanda appreciates and commends the collaboration with China on a number of issues of mutual interest through important frameworks such as FOCAC which have been very instrumental in supporting Africa’s development efforts and Rwanda’s in particular,” he added.