President Paul Kagame and Chinese President Xi Jinping have said cooperation between the two countries is set to improve going forward building on the 15 bilateral agreements the two countries signed.
The two Heads of State made the remarks while addressing a joint new conference shortly after witnessing the signing.
The visiting President and First Lady, Peng Liyuan, were received at Village Urugwiro by President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame.
President Xi inspected a guard of honour before holding bilateral talks with Kagame.
On the sidelines of their meeting, Mrs Kagame, who is the Chairperson of Imbuto Foundation, received First Lady Peng Liyuan, for a presentation of the Foundation’s programmes in health, education, youth and women empowerment, and to discuss common socio-economic development interests.
The two countries signed 15 bilateral memorandum of understandings (MOUs) and agreements. The agreements include visa exemption for diplomatic and service passport holders, culture and scientific operation and Silk Road Economic Belt cooperation.
Silk Road Economic Belt Cooperation is a Chinese initiative that seeks to create infrastructure corridors covering over 60 countries, primarily in Asia, Europe, Oceania and East Africa aiming at improving global connectivity.
Other agreements signed include those aimed at strengthening cooperation in investment in e-Commerce, cooperation in civil air transport, law enforcement cooperation and human resource development cooperation.
Exchanges of geology survey, expansion of Masaka hospital, a concessional loan to construct Huye-Kibeho road as well as a loan agreement to construct Bugesera International Airport access road project were also part of the agreement.
The Heads of State termed it as a chance to elevate the long standing ties. Kagame said that, going forward, there was deepened bilateral relations in multiple aspects as well as cooperation between Africa and China.
“I look forward to more cooperation and deepening of our bilateral relationships in different fields of development, working together not only bilaterally but also on the global scene and supporting cooperation between China and Africa. The signing of bilateral agreements speaks for itself for what is possible between our two countries and between China and the continent of Africa,” Kagame said, speaking at a luncheon hosted in the honour of the visiting president.
He added that the sustainability of growing ties between the two countries was hinged on mutual respect and interest.
“More generally, China relates to Africa as an equal. We see ourselves as a people on the road to prosperity. China’s actions demonstrate that you see us in the same way. This is a revolutionary posture in world affairs and it is more precious than money,” he said.
Noting that the national characters and determination of the two nations was shaped by historical suffering endured, he noted that it’s important to see common similarities to further build on partnership.
“If we are able to recognise ourselves in each other even in our most tragic chapters, it means that we will be firm friends and partners in the best of times as well,” Kagame said.
On his part, President Xi Jinping welcomed the strengthening of ties and partnership between the two countries.
He said that Rwanda, being part of his first overseas trip since his election, was proof of the importance his country attaches to the partnership.
He also congratulated President Kagame and Rwandans for successfully achieving stability.
“This is my first overseas trip since my election and Rwanda is an important stop. I have seen a country that is enjoying stability. I extend to President Kagame and people of Rwanda our heartfelt congratulations,” President Xi noted.
He also welcomed Rwanda’s participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative as well as President Kagame’s efforts to foster integration across the continent.
Speaking at the luncheon, Xi said that they look forward to continue working with the rest of the continent for mutual benefit.
President Xi later met the Chinese business community in Rwanda as the First Lady visited Fawe Girls School.
The delegation also visited Kigali Genocide Memorial to pay respects to the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The two countries have enjoyed diplomatic relations for 47 years. Both countries maintain close collaboration in infrastructure, culture, capacity building, health and agriculture sectors as well as people-to-people exchanges.
The visit has been hailed by Rwandans and Chinese citizens as a proof of strong partnership and ties.