FOREIGN Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Stanley Kakubo says government has not excluded China from Zambia’s economic diplomacy.

And Kakubo says in fact, government is having discussions with the Chinese authorities on debt restructuring.

Responding to a question from Kanchibiya PF member of parliament Sunday Chanda on whether government had excluded China from Zambia’s economic diplomacy and if so, how government planned to engage China in rebuilding the country’s economy, Kakubo said Zambia’s relationship with China was cordial and healthy.

“Zambia has not in any way excluded China in its implementation of its economic diplomacy. I will cite some examples that have happened, Madam Speaker, in recent weeks, when President Hichilema was inaugurated for the last Presidential and General elections, the President met the Chinese Ambassador on the 18th of August at his residence to discuss Zambia’s relationship with China, which is positive and cordial. Madam Speaker, the House may recall that when the President came here for the first time and addressed the House, the President made recognition of Zambia’s need to engage all partners on the international arena to enhance our country’s diplomacy, that included China,” he said.

“Madam Speaker, in the last two weeks President Hichilema has participated and was the only African leader that participated in a virtual conference that was addressed by the US President and the Chinese President. President Hichilema also spoke virtually. This signifies the health relations with our country and the People’s Republic of China.”

And Kakubo said government was discussing with China the possibility of restructuring Zambia’s debt to that country.

“Further to this, as Foreign Affairs Minister, I engaged in the last couple of weeks in a telephone conversation with my counterpart in China which lasted 45 minutes and some of the key things we discussed was number one, Zambia’s debt to China that was left behind by the PF. We are discussing issues on how that debt can be renegotiated by the Minister of Finance. Further to that conversation, Madam Speaker, the Chinese government has donated one million doses of vaccines. Also in that conversation, my colleague confirmed to me that the Chinese government has donated 300,099 metric tonnes of maize corn as humanitarian food aid to the DMMU,” Kakubo said.

He said China remained a key partner as the country was a huge global market for Zambia.

“In advancing our national interests, China remains a key partner and our intention as government is to continue strengthening our cooperation level, at bilateral level and also at multilateral level. It is in the best interest of Zambia to enhance promotion of Chinese investment in our country because China contributes to job creation, value addition, skills transfer and we want to take this opportunity for Zambian businesses and corporations to increase exports to China. As Foreign Affairs Minister, China has invited Zambia through myself to participate in the forum on investment in Senegal at the end of the month. This shows that we have healthy relations with the people’s Republic of China and we continue to do so. That is government’s position. Madam Speaker, government does not envisage any strained relationship with China. China is a huge global market for Zambia, it is important that relations are kept healthy,” said Kakubo.