The current Rwanda-China ties present historic opportunities that both countries and peoples should make the most of, the new Chinese envoy to Rwanda, Rao Hungwei, has said.
Amb. Rao was speaking at the Chinese embassy in Kigali on Wednesday at a ceremony to mark his official assumption of office.
Addressing a gathering that included members of the Chinese community in Rwanda, government officials, diplomats, among others, Rao said that the Rwanda-China relations are at a fresh start following President Paul Kagame’s visit to China last month.
“During this landmark visit, I witnessed the strong and shared commitment of our two heads of state to further advance our bilateral relations. Just as the Chinese President XI Jinping told President Kagame during the meeting in Beijing, the current relations between the two countries present historic opportunities,” he said.
“The Chinese government attaches great importance to China-Rwanda relations and will encourage more Chinese companies to invest in Rwanda’s transportation, energy, mining and tourism sectors, and support the development of Rwanda’s special economic zones, as well as the “Made in Rwanda” drive through industrial capacity transfer,” he added.
He cited the need for the two countries to further deepen mutually beneficial cooperation.
Rao is the 14th Chinese envoy accredited to Rwanda since the two countries started diplomatic ties in 1971.
He replaces Pan Hejun, who served from late 2015 up to early this year.
Over the past 46 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations, China became Rwanda’s biggest export market, the third largest source of the country’s imports, and number four trading partner.
In 2016, China’s non-financial direct investment in Rwanda reached over $100 million including in the areas of digital television and garment manufacturing.
Rao pledged to work to keep the relations between the two countries cordial during his tour of duty.
“I will do my best to fulfil my duties. Through collaboration with the Rwandans, we will implement the important consensus reached by our countries’ leaders, enhance mutual trust between the two countries, facilitate all-round cooperation, and increase understanding and friendship between the two peoples,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the Government of Rwanda, the state minister for economic planning, Uzziel Ndagijimana lauded the relations between the two countries, which he said have grown over the years.
“The Government of Rwanda appreciates China’s continued assistance and partnership in the development of our country in various sectors, including infrastructure, health and education,” he said.
“We need to work together in fostering people-to-people exchange between our countries, while we also need to draw from China’s experience to strengthen the ‘Made in Rwanda’ initiative,” he said.
The initiative seeks to promote local manufacturing to help bridge trade deficit.