SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE VISIT BY HIS EXCELLENCY LI KEQIANG PREMIER OF THE STATE COUNCIL OF THE PEOPLEâ€™S REPUBLIC OF CHINA AT STATE HOUSE, NAIROBI ON 10TH MAY, 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China is an ancient civilisation, a rising nation, and Kenyaâ€™s ally of long standing.Â So it is with great pleasure that I, on behalf of the people of Kenya, welcome the visit of the Prime Minister of the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China, His Excellency Li Keqiang.
Premier Liâ€™s visit coincides with the anniversary of a historic visit to Africa by His Excellency Zhou Enlai, one of the great leaders of the last century â€“ remembered in Africa, and elsewhere, as a statesman of wit and subtlety, remarkable administrative ability, and outstanding foresight.
Zhou Enlai brought a timely revolutionary message, stressing Asia and Africaâ€™s common struggles against imperialism and colonialism. He reminded us that it was also our shared objective to slay the dragons of poverty and underdevelopment.
Premier Liâ€™s tour of Africa builds on this most distinguished foundation, and will deepen the friendship between our two peoples, which dates back to the fifteenth century, but also takes in the most modern forms of assistance and cooperation.
Our talks, and the agreements we reached this morning, covered a variety of matters, but allow me to mention just three: the Standard Gauge Railway; the protection of our national heritage; and our regionâ€™s peace and security.
Today, we shall witness the signing of various instruments that will kick-start agreements we concluded in Beijing last year â€“ notably the loan instruments that will facilitate the development of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
Kenya and Chinaâ€™s partnership in the development of the Standard Gauge Railway line will not only revolutionise the economy of our region, it will also reaffirm Kenyaâ€™s status as the regionâ€™s transport and economic hub.
The colonialists laid the existing single-track railway line shortly after the turn of the 19th century. Today,it is an obsolete anachronism.
TheÂ Standard Gauge Railway that we will jointly develop not only alerts the world to the fact that Kenya can now chart its own development path; it also makes it self-evident that we have a new and able partner in our march to the progress and prosperity that the future holds.
With the implementation of this and other flagship projects in cooperation with Chinese public and private partners, China has secured a place of honour in the history of Kenyaâ€™s economic development.
I wish also to commend Your Excellencyâ€™s continued support and cooperation in our effort to combat and eventually eliminate the illegal trade in ivory as well as in our other initiatives to preserve our natural heritage. I am particularly pleased to note that we shall witness the exchange of notes between our governments which will aid the establishment of our Owning the Night initiative in wildlife protection. Your assistance is most opportune.
To realise our common objective of shared prosperity, we will need to deepen our trade and investment ties. A critical lesson we have drawn from Chinaâ€™s remarkable growth over the last three decades is that prosperity is achievable with proper planning and prudent investment.
My government is committed to making Kenya the manufacturing and technology hub of Africa. We will achieve this by putting in place appropriate investments, policies and reforms, the better to enhance our business environment, and to make Kenya both the first choice of outside investors, and the home of the most energetic local entrepreneurs.
One immediate step we can take here is one we agreed at our talks today â€“ we agreed on the urgency of convening a Bilateral Advisory Council.When adopted, the council will provide an ideal forum for constant and fruitful engagement at every level â€“ most especially in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the various initiatives and agreements we have concluded so far.
Kenya and Chinaâ€™s venerable friendship has reliably yielded mutual advantage. China also, as we all recognise, possesses substantial political, diplomatic and financial assets, which, if fully applied, would be a game-changer in the regionâ€™s peace and security effort.
That is why we seek a deeper engagement with China on matters of peace and security. Our talks centred on issues of critical importance, and particularly on Somalia and South Sudan.
The intervention by AMISOM has stabilised the situation in Somalia, and is rapidly easing the Somali governmentâ€™s extension of its control over its territory, while limiting acts of piracy along the East African coast.
IGAD recently achieved a substantial success in South Sudan, when under its auspices, the leaders of the main contending parties, President Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar, agreed a peace deal.
In both those cases, the help and support of China has been invaluable. We discussed how best we could build on these achievements going forward.
As you can see, there is much to do. But we are confident that in the coming days, the partnership between Kenya and China will continue to flourish, and I now ask you all to give the warmest welcome to Premier Li and his delegation.