News / Brèves
History / Histoire
Back to previous selection / Retour à la sélection précédente

800 Years of Tanzania-China Trade Relations

Printable version / Version imprimable

Rainer Appel

Click to zoom out

The Chinese vision of a Maritime Silk Road is based on the seven great voyages of Admiral Zheng He in the time of the the Yongle Emperor (1360 – 1424), the third Emperor of the Ming dynasty.

EIRNS—Tanzania, one of the prominent historic connections of the Maritime Silk Road between Africa and China, is debating efforts to increase already existing trade relations with the new Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century that China is pushing forward. The most spectacular historic connection goes via the famous Chinese seafarer, Admiral Zheng He, who came to the seaport of Kilwa in eastern Africa 600 years ago, but trade relations between Africa and China existed already 200 years earlier, as has been found out by archaeology, writes Lu Youqing, China’s Ambassador to Tanzania, stressing the importance of his host country, in an Oct. 21 article for Tanzania Daily News, headlined, "Tanzania: A New Shining Pearl Along the Maritime Silk Road":

"It [Tanzania] locates on the eastern coast of Africa with major ports of strategic importance; it has a big regional influence as a renowned ’frontier country’; it, for decades, enjoys social and political stability; it enriches in natural resources with an estimated 46.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves; it experiences over 7% GDP growth rate for the past decade and witnesses improved infrastructure.

"Currently, based on its own comparative advantages and through attracting more Chinese investment, Tanzania is growing into the East African manufacturing, logistic, ICT [information and communications technology] and tourism centers and becoming the first few models of African industrialization."

This has a forerunner in Chinese-Tanzanian relations some 40 years ago, Lu Youqing writes: "In the 1970s, 50,000 Chinese technicians came to Tanzania from thousands of miles away and built the world-known TAZARA [Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority]. This Uhuru Railway and Friendship Railway not only broke the foreign blockade against the newly independent East and South African countries, but also greatly promoted the economic and social development along the railway."


"Chinese medical teams were also sent to assist Tanzania’s disease prevention and medical care development. Even today many Chinese medical experts are still working in Tanzania and the song of ’Chinese Medical Team in Tanzania’ has been popular for half a century."