China switch was sensible move for Malawi –VP

By Thom Chiumia, Nyasa Times

Malawi’s estranged Vice-President Joyce Banda, who was Foreign Affairs Minister when the country switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan after 41 years to Mainland China in December 2007, said Beijing has put its marking the country in terms of infrastructure development.

A memorandum of understanding covering industry, trade and investment was signed between the two countries in May 2008, committing China to help in increasing the productive capacity of Malawi in tobacco, cotton, mining, forestry, fertiliser production and in processing hides and skins.

Banda said the diplomatic switch to Beijing was “ a viable move”

Friends indeed: Malawi Vice President Joyce Banda with Chinese Ambassador to Malawi Pan Hejin

“I think it was a sensible situation. It was a sensible move  for us to move to Mainland China and the benefits are there for all to see,” she said on Straight Talk programme aired on Capital Fm.

China is constructing a first five-star hotel, 90 million dollars worth of well-appointed rooms, a state-of-the-art conference centre and 14 opulent presidential suites.

Chinese also funded the construction of parliament  chamber which was opened in June 2010. That project cost around 41 million dollars.

Constructing  a university of science and technology in the southern district of Thyolo is underway with funding from China. They are also building a secondary school in Thyolo, and a 100-kilometre road between the northern districts of Karonga and Chitipa.

The Asian nation has also promised to build a China-Africa Friendship School in Lilongwe, establish solar and biogas pilot projects and set up an agricultural technology demonstration centre.

Banda also said as minister of foreign affairs  she led to the signing of  bilateral agreement with South Africa.

“That has an effect on other agreements that we may sign, in labour and in heath,” she said.

The vice president said in her tenure as foreign affairs minister, Malawi opened diplomatic missions in India and  Ireland.

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