Chinese President Xi, Kenya’s President Kenyatta meet to cement Kenya-China ties

President Uhuru Kenyatta met President Xi Jinping on Thursday evening to cement the growing ties between Kenya and China.  The talks in Johannesburg came ahead of a summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that opens on Friday.

President Xi assured Mr Kenyatta of China’s commitment to ensuring that its joint development projects with Kenya succeed. He cited infrastructure and agriculture, particularly the Standard Gauge Railway and roads, as some of the priority areas that his Government was focusing on to boost cooperation between Kenya and China.

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It was the third meeting between the two Heads of State in the last two years. They met during President Kenyatta’s state visit to China in 2013, and again in New York this year when they co-chaired a United Nations forum on women empowerment.

President Kenyatta welcomed China’s support to Kenya’s development agenda, particularly in infrastructure and industrialization.

“My government is keen on the implementation of the various projects signed with China, particularly, the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), which is critical in the realisation of Kenya’s development blue print – Vision 2030,” President Kenyatta said.

He noted that the SGR project has achieved significant progress and more than 25,000 Kenyan engineers and workers employed with their Chinese counterparts to build the railway.

“Chinese experts are also helping to mentor about 15,000 local skilled workers and 400 engineers and advanced technicians. The SGR Project has now been extended to Naivasha, to be completed in December 2018,” he said.

He also thanked China for identifying Kenya for industrial relocation and technological transfer, alongside Ethiopia and Tanzania.

“I am aware of your keen interest on industrial cooperation and development of Special Economic Zone in Kenya. We have great infrastructural advantages for industrial development,” President Kenyatta said.

The Kenyan leader also welcomed China’s support in the construction of a railway academy in Kenya to train more professionals and engineers for railway design construction and management.
“My government will give every support possible towards realisation of this project,’ President Kenyatta said.

The two leaders also discussed trade between their two countries and agreed the need to address the trade imbalance that is heavily tilted towards China through the Joint Committee on Trade, Investment, Economic and Technical Cooperation.

“I propose that the technical teams of this Committee from both countries move with speed to address the trade imbalance,” President Kenyatta said.

In 2014, the bilateral trade volume between Kenya and China reached $5.09 billion, increasing by 53 per cent. In the first half of 2015 the volume reached $2.9 billion, reflecting a 65pc year-on-year increase, official data shows.

President Kenyatta also briefed President Xi on the security situation in South Sudan and Burundi.

“Kenya continues to play a critical role in seeking resolutions to the conflicts in East Africa and Great Lakes region, particularly the situation in South Sudan and Burundi,” he said.

He said Kenya’s position on Burundi is very clear – to help return security and stability – and called on international community, including China, to support the peace process in the East African country.

At the continental level, President Kenyatta said Kenya cherishes the milestones made in the history of China-Africa relations through the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which has grown in strength over the past few years.

“I believe that the principles FOCAC set out will continue to provide long-term guidance for the growth of China-Africa relations,” President Kenyatta said.