A new era for strategic partnership

Thursday November 9 2017

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia together with Chinese Ambassador to Kenya, Liu Xianfa launch a second commuter train at the Nairobi terminus on November 1, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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With more than 89 million members, the Communist Party of China (CPC) is the largest political party in the world, governing a country of more than 1.3 billion people.

During the CPC’s 19th national congress held from October 18 to 24 in Beijing, President Xi Jinping was re-elected general secretary of the central committee.

The congress reaffirmed the mission of the CPC in the new era, set up the goal of building a prosperous society, and launched the new task of developing China into a modern socialist country.


China has maintained its position as the world’s second largest economy with its gross domestic product rising to $12 trillion and contributing more than 30 per cent of global economic growth.

Its urbanisation rate is about 60 per cent and the poverty rate is lower than four per cent. Over 13 million urban jobs are created yearly.

China is now shouldering mounting responsibility in the UN, contributing to world peace and development. All these achievements would never have been realised without the strong leadership of the CPC, and the hard work of members. The CPC has drawn up a three-stage roadmap for achieving the ‘Two Centenary Goals’.

During the period to 2020, the centenary of the CPC, China will complete the building of a moderately prosperous society with a per capita GDP of $10,000. From 2020 to 2035, we will see that socialist modernisation is realised with a per capita GDP of $30,000. From 2035, we will develop China into a great modern socialist country.

In the next five years, China will import $8 trillion worth of goods, attract $600 billion of investment and make $750 billion of foreign investment.


Some 700 million Chinese are expected to travel abroad. China will strengthen its international cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing in May.

By coordinating the BRI with the African Union Agenda 2063 and Kenya’s Vision 2030, China is working to embrace a new era of win-win cooperation and development. President Uhuru Kenyatta attended the forum.

President Xi Jinping and President Kenyatta reached a broad consensus on strengthening cooperation and agreed to upgrade relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

In June, as one of the early outcomes of the BRI, the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway (SGR) was launched. The special envoy of President Xi Jinping, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yong, and President Kenyatta attended the launch.

The SGR has become a milestone in China-Kenya cooperation. The largest infrastructure project in Kenyan history was completed within just two-and-a-half years.


A few days ago, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and I launched the inter-county passenger trains. For five months, the SGR has been operated safely with a passenger volume of 420,000. It also delivered 131,500 tonnes of grain to help fight severe drought.

The cargo service will be ready in the near future. The operation team of 1,300 Kenyans and 600 Chinese has demonstrated their professionalism. The story of ‘Lady Engine Drivers’ is on a Discovery Channel documentary.

China Wu Yi has built a $100 million Kenya Construction Industrialisation Base. From next year, it will have annual capacity of producing 50,000 cubic metres of precast components to meet the ever-increasing demand of new buildings.

Twyford Ceramics Company in Kajiado County is a Chinese private enterprise. Within a year, it has become the largest building ceramic factory in eastern Africa, producing 30,000 square metres of floor tiles daily. It employs 1,500 people.


The SGR, Wu Yi and Twyford are examples that China and Kenya are good partners. The bilateral trade volume reached $5.7 billion last year.

The two have worked closely in the anti-terrorism campaign, peacekeeping and climate change.

With the CPC congress ushering in a new era for China, Kenya is also at a crucial stage to keep itself on the fast-track of development and modernisation.
The new era will provide opportunities, which will not only enable Kenya to maintain its position as the regional hub for transport, trade, finance, tourism and manufacturing, but also support its pursuit of industrialisation and agricultural modernisation.

I firmly believe that China and Kenya will work more closely to push their comprehensive strategic partnership to a new height to continue to benefit the two peoples.

Dr Liu is the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya