China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on Wednesday.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his DRC counterpart, Marie Tumba Nzeza, signed the MoU after earlier talks in Kinshasa.
The Chinese diplomat is on a five-nation tour in Africa – his first overseas trip in 2021. The DRC is Wang's second stop following his visit to Nigeria. He will later travel to Botswana, Tanzania, and Seychelles.
Wang said the BRI is an important international cooperation initiative and is committed to promoting economic complementarity among countries, synergizing development strategies, forming joint development efforts, and realizing common development and prosperity.
At present, China has signed BRI cooperation documents with 44 African countries, Wang said, adding that China welcomes the DRC as its 45th partner in Africa in BRI cooperation.
Wang said the signing of the MoU will send a positive signal to the world that China and DRC are committed to common development and prosperity.
It will also drive economic cooperation between the two countries, create a stronger momentum for mutually beneficial cooperation, and open up broader prospects for bilateral relations.
Proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, the BRI comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes.
During his talks with Nzeza, Wang said China's friendly policy towards the DRC maintains continuity and stability and is not affected by changes in their respective domestic situations. China has never interfered in the internal affairs of other countries and respects the choices made by the DRC people, he said.
"I believe the DRC will continue to give China understanding and support on issues involving China's core interests," he said.
Nzeza said the friendship between China and the DRC has a long history, adding that their relationship is based on mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual benefit.
The DRC thanked China for its important help in maintaining peace and realizing development in the country. The DRC firmly supports China in safeguarding national unity and territorial integrity, she said.
Wang: China never attaches political strings to assistance to DRC
On the same day, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi also met with Wang in Kinshasa.
Tshisekedi said the DRC cherishes its friendship with China and always regards China as a good friend.
The DRC thanks for China's help in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and developing its economy, he said.
The DRC, which will soon assume the rotating chair of the African Union (AU), is willing to actively participate in Africa-China cooperation and welcomes more Chinese enterprises to invest in the country and strengthen cooperation in infrastructure and other areas, Tshisekedi said.
He hoped the two sides will strengthen coordination and cooperation and expand Africa's voice in international affairs.
Wang said mutual support and trust is a fine tradition between China and the DRC. China appreciates the DRC government's willingness to carry forward the tradition of China-DRC friendship and wants to be the DRC's long-term and reliable cooperation partner, he added.
Wang said his visit aims to convey three clear messages regarding bilateral ties.
Firstly, China supports the government of the DRC in safeguarding national unity and stability.
Stability is a prerequisite for development, Wang said, adding that China never interferes in other countries' internal affairs and respects the choice made by the people of the DRC.
Secondly, China supports the DRC government in developing and revitalizing the economy.
"We are ready to convene a joint economic and trade committee with the DRC at an early date to help the DRC translate its resources advantages into development advantages," said Wang.
China-DRC cooperation is South-South cooperation and mutual help and support between friends, Wang said, adding that China has never attached political strings to its assistance to the DRC.
China is ready to help the DRC develop itself and improve people's livelihood, Wang said. The Chinese side has been urging Chinese companies in the DRC to follow the right approach to justice and interests, abide by the laws and regulations of the DRC and respect local customs and habits.
Thirdly, China supports the DRC in assuming the rotating chair of the AU.
Wang said China and Africa are a community with a shared future, and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has played an important role in promoting China-Africa relations and the development of African countries.
"We are ready to step up communication and coordination with the DRC and make positive contributions to the success of the new session of the FOCAC," he said.
(With input from Xinhua)