Learning from experience focusing on development
——Interview with Virgile RWANYAGATARE Economic Counselor of Rwanda Embassy in China
By Zhang Mei China Investment
"This is my second visit to Henan, and comparing with the first visit of five years ago, I am really shocked by its rapid development.” This is what Mr. Virgile RWANYAGATARE, the Economic counselor of the Embassy of Rwanda, told our journalist. He is apparently very excited about the trip.
Then he further added, “This is my first field trip to Lankao, where local people’s spirit of struggling hard to get rid of poverty is worth learning in Africa, because we are facing the same challenge. We really should pay close attention to Africa’s development, the needs of African people, as well as what the governments can do for their people.”
From Nov.20 to 25, 2018, China Follow-up Committee of China-Africa Cooperation Forum organized some African envoys to visit Henan Province. After this visit, Mr. Virgile RWANYAGATARE, the Economic counselor of the Embassy of Rwanda, accepted the exclusive interview of China Investment in Beijing. During the interview, he talked about his understanding of Chinese Spirit; while at the same time he also explored the opportunities for economic, trade and investment cooperation between China and Rwanda.
China Investment: Counselor Virgile, we know that you and other African delegates went on a field trip in Henan in 2018 November, is this your first time visiting Henan province?
Virgile RWANYAGATARE: Actually no, I have visited Henan Province five years ago, and since then I have really realized that a lot of changes have been going on under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and Central Committee of CPC. You can see that China is bringing a very bright future for its people, and you can the hard work of Chinese people.
China Investment: Can you give us more details about the trip, such as how different was it in comparison to last time you visited?
Virgile RWANYAGATARE: I have realized during this trip that today Henan’s economy is growing tremendously and now ranks top five provinces among China, after Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong, and Zhejiang. So this time, I have really seen a lot of changes, a lot of improvement of the province. And I was very much impressed.
This time you can see that Henan is a very important bridge in transportation hub for China.
Also Henan is building a very high speed railway, which are connecting cities like Jinan, Taiyuan, Hangzhou, and Chongqing. It also has very extensive road way system, the air silk road, which’s connecting Zhengzhou to European countries, including Luxembourg. Also Henan has built this big exhibition trading center, E-Commerce Exhibition Trading Center, where you can find products from across the world, so people can buy and sell different products and goods to the rest of the world. So I was really impressed of that. And also, I have realized that city of An Yang is the home of Oracle scripting and it is an important wheat producer in agriculture in China.
Henan has long history. Among the five thousand years of China, three thousand belongs to Henan. It’s a great honor and opportunity to experience where the cultural ancestor of China commenced the Chinese civilization and the eastern end of the ancient Silk Road.
Henan has rich history, it’s a land nourished by yellow river, it boasts the four of ancient Chinese capitals namely Luoyang, Anyang, Kaifeng, Zhengzhou and all the invention of ancient China paper making, printing, gunpowder as well as the compass.
Henan is also a home to six world heritage cultural sites including the Longman Grottoes, Yinxu, well known Shaolin Kungfu which actually plays a big role in promoting Chinese culture. So I was happy to see all of these with my own eyes, and I think Henan is developing really fast, you can tell the huge different from my previous trip five years ago.
China Investment: In addition to the cultural heritage of Longmen Grottoes and Shaolin Temple that you just mentioned, there are some artificial miracles in Henan, such as the Red Flag Canal. How do you feel about them?
Virgile RWANYAGATARE: Myself are very impressed of the Hongqi Canal, or what they call it the Red flag Canal. Because it shows how Chinese people are dedicated and love their country. It really inspires not only China, but also our country. You could see that how people work hard, whether they are moving rocks to transform the canal. In 1960s, in order to improve their harsh living environment, the people in Linzhou confronted with daunting conditions and decided to build the “Red Flag Canal” through hard work, which featured their self-reliance, perseverance, joint cooperation and selfless devotion. What impressed me the most was the spirit of people behind this activity. There is something I heard which is very very inspiring for me, where the people saying that, “If their leader could sweat they could bleed; If their leader could lift the rock, they could move a mountain.”
So I think African should learn from this experience while being more patriotic and dedicated to their own countries in order to enhance the quality and effectiveness.
Also, in September 2018 during the Forum on China Africa Cooperation Summit, the leaders decided to build together a stronger community with a shared future.
⬆African Envoy Visiting Shaolin Temple
China Investment: Talking about poverty alleviation. You have also visited Lankao County in Henan, a place where had been poor throughout history and suffered from frequent floods and sandstorms for centuries. But now with booming mushroom industry and homestay tourism, local people have jobs and are awarded special loans for poverty alleviation from the government. So how do you think of Lankao’s model on poverty alleviaiton?
Virgile RWANYAGATARE: This field trip showed how China has managed to overcome poverty and it is really important for us to learn from this experience since African countries are facing the same situation and should focus more on development, we shouldn’t care about what people think or say about us, we should focus on what we want and what we should do for the people.
Since many countries are still facing poverty in many areas in Africa, so I think our leaders should work tirelessly for their people for their countries future development. We need to have more dialogue with China and discuss how to live out the vision so that we can better implement the eight initiatives agreed on during FOCAC Summit in September 2018 for cooperative development. And I believe that with the affinity and similar development task between China and Africa, we could work hand in hand with China, to be able to achieve our goal to alleviate people from poverty.
China Investment: In your observation, what experiences could Lankao County’s poverty alleviation model provide for other developing countries?
Virgile RWANYAGATARE: Maybe they can go to the developing countries to show them that how they have managed the way to overcome these tough times. Maybe set up workshop, demonstration center in developing countries to show them. For example, the mushroom agriculture demonstration center in our country are now started producing JunCao. I think this kind of demonstration center can help people to develop in such a way. So I hope that Lankao can also do the same in our country to try to develop some center to demonstrate, especially some agriculture products.
We have also seen how Lankao were able to construct resettlement houses for families, like how a family can live in one house with all needed facilities, that was impressive, because it shows how before people used to live without maybe water, electricity, but now people have access to all of these facilities. So we also need to do that for our people in our countries.
Those resettlement houses are really good, and they also kind of save the space, the land, people can have a land for where to live, also a land where they can do other activities or agriculture.
We also saw the greenhouses, which is also good for people to do model agriculture. That’s also good for us, because you can see many places in Africa, they don’t have water, it’s too much drought, so we can learn how Chinese are doing their job.
China Investment: Jiao Yulu was a county party secretary in Lankao, when he was working in the county, he showed the spirit of loving the people, hard work, and scientific truth-seeking. It is called the spirit of Jiao Yulu. How do you understand his leadership spirit?
Virgile RWANYAGATARE: You can always tell that people like him, it’s like when you say someone like Mao Zedong, these are the people who have done a lot for the people of China, and people will always honor what they have provided to them, and how they have improve their lives.
So for Lankao County’s people, they are very grateful towards what Jiao has provided to them, maybe they want to follow his step to do the same. So I think it’s a great thing to always recognize these people who have dedicated their lives to the people.
China Investment: Do you think that there is something in common between Henan and Rwanda, even though Henan is a province but Rwanda is a country? Does its development have any reference significance for your country?
Virgile RWANYAGATARE: Yes there is similarity. You know Rwanda is an agricultural base country and Henan has a lot of advantages in terms of agriculture development therefore there is a potential to have more extensive cooperation in increasing added value of our products, and with concerted effort, we can realize mutual benefit for the common development of our people.
Henan is also advancing urbanization to make cities and villages beautiful and help people achieve their dreams, indeed Rwanda is doing the same after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, when the country was nearly declared a failed State. However, due to the leadership of President Paul Kagame and Rwanda patriotic Front, we have been able to recover, and Rwanda has become a model for Africa in terms of social economy development, security, zero-corruption, best place to do business to name a few.
Henan was the first to establish the cross border e-commerce, recently Rwanda has signed agreement with Alibaba for electronic world trade platform in order to promote Rwandan products on T-mall.com and other Chines digital platforms.
Henan industries also have contributed to the effort and friendship between Rwanda and China and have high potential, for example the smart phone assembling, the CITIC company with heavy Industries which is making its name in International market, the new energy buses manufactured by Yutong, agricultural demonstration farms as well as companies such as Henan Guoji which have huge potential in real state and property development.
China Investment: Henan Province has a history of sending medical team to African countries, how do you assess China’s health aid assistance to Africa?
Virgile RWANYAGATARE: We have been cooperate with China in healthcare and medical aid area, China has been sending doctors to our country and in many of our hospitals to help. During Chinese President Xi’s visit to Rwanda in July 2018, he has signed an agreement with my president to extend our hospital in Masaka District, where they are going to make it an international standard hospital, so this is going to be a very huge achievement for my country. This is going to be high level hospital and recently, we have delegations from Rwanda to visit China, to implement and conclude this agreement, so I’m sure that very soon the work will start.
⬆Virgile RWANYAGATARE visiting the YTO Group Cooperation