“My dream is to travel all over China” – Interview with Balumuene Nkuna F., Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to China

Balumuene Nkuna F Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo DRC to China (photo by Lu Ningyuan Haiwainet)

By Mao Li, Wu Zhengdan, Haiwainet

“I want to go to Shanghai for a week to visit the business and finance sector there. I also want to go to Guangzhou, where many Congolese do business. I also want to visit major agricultural provinces to learn more about China’s advanced agricultural technology. China is a big car producer, so I also want to visit big car provinces… My dream is to travel all over China. Balumuene Nkuna F., the DRC’s ambassador to China recently gave a long wish list in an interview with People’s Daily Overseas. He said it was an important task for him as ambassador to deeply understand China’s development and bring the Chinese experience back to the DRC.

“Zero-COVID dynamic approach” is responsible to people
Balomouene arrived in China in February this year to take up his post. He first visited China in 2008. Talking about China’s changes, Balomouene repeatedly expressed his admiration. He was impressed with what he saw while traveling from Shanghai to Beijing by bullet train. “There was almost no wasteland along the way. What you saw are bustling cities, big factories, high rise buildings, highways, railways and electrical installations everywhere. These are signs of development.

The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, which Balumuene praised, is China’s historic leap from a big country to a strong country in transportation. From 2012 to the end of 2021, China’s railways and highways have increased by about 1.1 million kilometers, or 27.5 times the Earth’s equator. High-speed railways and highways have covered more than 95% of cities with populations over 200,000. “The speed of infrastructure development in China is amazing. The efforts of the Chinese people are admirable and they deserve to be a model for other countries and regions,” Balumuene said.

Balumuene is very optimistic about China’s economic prospects. He said strong productivity is an important manifestation of China’s strong economic resilience. China claims its products of different categories and qualities and sells them all over the world. The Chinese economy plays a vital role in the global economy. Currently, China is an important driver of global economic recovery.

Balumuene believes it is the right choice for China to insist on coordinating epidemic prevention and control with economic development. “According to China’s epidemic prevention regulations, I pass nucleic acid tests in time.” Balumuene said the “dynamic zero-COVID approach” is responsible to the people and the effect is obvious to all. It can eliminate the epidemic’s negative impact on economic and social development as much as possible in a short period of time, rather than let development be affected by the epidemic. Recently, Chinese manufacturing enterprises have accelerated the pace of resumption of work and production, which is a positive signal for the revitalization of the global economy.

The 25th Chinese peacekeeping medical detachment in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) visited the SOS International Children’s Village in Bukavu for the International Children’s Day. image source: CGTN

Looking forward to deepen cooperation with China
China’s steady development has benefited a wide variety of African countries, including the DRC. Balumuene is deeply aware of this: “The DRC has high expectations to promote its own development by deepening cooperation with China”.

In the streets of Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC, one can see from time to time emblematic buildings of China-DRC cooperation. Among them, the China-DRC Friendship Hospital, built with Chinese assistance, is one of the most representative medical facilities in the city. “The hospital is located in a large, densely populated area and provides many health services to people in the DRC,” he said. “Over the years, China has made a concrete and important contribution to the development of the cause of medical work and health care in the DRC. From the fight against Ebola to the fight against COVID-19, China has extended its support and assistance to the DRC, winning praise from all its people.

The DRC, reputed to be a “geological miracle”, is rich in mineral resources. Driven by China’s massive investment, abundant resources have turned into assets for development. According to a report by Congo Challenge, a DRC think tank, China-DRC mining cooperation has played a key role in developing its economy, creating jobs and improving people’s livelihoods. . Balumuene said China is the biggest investor in the DRC’s mining sector and cooperation between the two countries in the sector is key to unlocking the DRC’s development potential. Speaking about some Western media attacks on the mining cooperation between the two countries, Balumuene said, “Some Western countries once occupied the African continent for long periods of time, but look what Africans are left with. And now they are smearing Africa-China cooperation – out of jealousy and without any factual basis. There is no need to waste time on this. Instead, we should work together and move forward hand in hand. ”

Balumuene believes that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) provides a great opportunity for the DRC and China to expand areas of cooperation. He said that the DRC is the second largest country in Africa and its forest resources, arable land area and water resources rank first in the world. The Congo River is the second largest river in the world, second only to the Amazon River in terms of flow. “DRC has the potential to become the ‘engine’ of economic development on the African continent and this goal will be achieved to a large extent through cooperation with China,” he said. Balumuene said that the DRC attaches great importance to the implementation of the projects under the BRI and hopes that they will bring benefits to the Congolese people. China’s actions have shown that it is helping Africa achieve industrialization and economic and social development. Africa must find the path to prosperity through cooperation with China.

Work of wood carving in the DRC.
Photo of the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo in China
“China’s infrastructure is world-class”
Balumuene sees development experiences as well as opportunities in China. “China’s path has inspired many developing countries, and China’s development case appeals to us,” he said. “My mission in China is to see and learn more from China’s development experiences in order to benefit our people in the DRC,” Balumuene said.
The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (20th NCCPC) coming this year is an important window for the international community to better understand China. “As Congolese and Africans, we are also looking forward to the 20th NCCPC.” Balumuene believes that the 20th NCCPC will give strong impetus to China to build a modern socialist country in all respects and further strengthen China’s international influence.

Balumuene is keenly interested in how China has modernized its agriculture and rural areas. Over the past few decades, China has gone from “fighting for food” to becoming the world’s largest grain producer. “I read relevant materials to study the development of China’s agricultural industry, another experience we need to borrow from China.” He said agriculture is an area they should prioritize in the cooperation between the two countries. The DRC also hopes to become a major grain producer like China and achieve the goal of exporting grain for foreign currency.

China’s construction of a modern infrastructure system is also an important observation object for Balumuene to understand China. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge has established a number of world firsts. The Baihetan Hydroelectric Power Station is the largest and most technically challenging hydroelectric project under construction in the world. China’s mobile network has made leaps and bounds in making breakthroughs in 3G, synchronizing with 4G and leading the world in 5G. One achievement after another shows the world China’s accelerating pace towards an infrastructure powerhouse.

“China’s infrastructure is world-class.” Balumuene said the DRC has a large infrastructure deficit but has launched a large number of large infrastructure projects. Whether it is highways, airports or ports, the DRC must draw inspiration from the Chinese experience to diversify the country’s economy.

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