Uganda-China 59 years of diplomatic relations

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Akunzirwe Conrad

This week, Uganda and China marked celebrated 59 years since the two countries establishment diplomatic ties.  It is important to recall that China recognized Uganda as a newly independent Nation just a few days after Uganda was declared an independent country setting a stage for many other independent nations to follow the suit.  Since then, bilateral relations between the two countries have been growing from strength to strength that today, several Chinese diplomats have always emphasized that Beijing gives priority to its relations with Kampala.

Since 1962, Uganda and China continue to enjoy good relations. In 1971, Uganda was one of 76 Nations that voted to support UN resolution 2758 backing China’s membership at the UN.

Since the National Resistance Movement government came to power in 1986, the bilateral cooperation between China and Uganda has grown and China has supported Uganda in many ways contributing to the countries social, economic, and political growth. As discussed, below one can argue that today, China’s role in Uganda’s development efforts cannot be ignored:

Today, Uganda investments Authority figures indicate that China is Uganda’s top source of Foreign direct investments (FDI.) The two brotherly countries have on many occasions signed agreements that support their mutual benefits.

In the education sector, Uganda has benefited from China’s generous gesture of supporting the country’s education. Every year, China gives over 100 scholarships to Ugandan students to pursue education in China in different fields. This education support which includes undergraduate courses, masters, and Ph.D. is important to support considering that the development of human capital is one of the major steps any country must consider if it is to attain development. This education support is also extended to sometimes senior government officials, and technocrats. Earlier this month, the Chinese embassy in Uganda contributed 50 million shillings towards the rebuilding of Makerere university’s main building which was destroyed by fire in September 2000.

From the manufacturing sector, many Chinese firms and factories are dealing in the production of various goods in the country. With the cooperation of Chinese firms, the government of Uganda was able to establish a flourishing industrial park in different parts of the country including the establishment of Africa Shandong industrial park, Sino-Uganda industrial park in Mbale, the China-Uganda Agricultural Cooperation industrial park, among others. These industrial parks have in many ways contributed to Uganda’s economic development by creating employment opportunities for thousands of Ugandans. In economic terms, these firms are playing a pivotal role as far as Uganda’s vision 2040 of creating an industrious country is concerned. For example, in Kapeeka industrial park, these firms are now producing building tiles of which many are exported to neighboring countries thereby earning the country foreign currency.

In the health sector, the good diplomatic relations between the two countries have seen Uganda benefit from Chinese medical assistance. The construction of China-Uganda Friendship Hospital, Nagulu is a vivid example of china’s medical diplomacy in Uganda. Today, as the country is celebrating the 59th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between the two countries, the ministry of health spokesperson Ainebyoona Emmanuel announced on his Twitter account that Uganda is receiving seven hundred doses of Sinovac vaccines which is another huge support as the country intestines efforts in ensuring that many Ugandans get vaccinated as government’s plant to fully re-open the economy. This is the second batch China is giving to Uganda having given the country 300,000 doses in July this year.  As medics say, the highest ethical act one can do is to save a life, with the ravaging covid-19 pandemic, health experts have argued that the only effective way for countries to effectively defeat this pandemic world over will be through mass vaccination of people. Considering vaccines nationalism especially by rich countries which has seen many developing countries unable to access provide-19 vaccines on markets, one can argue that China’s donation of 700,000 vaccines doses is a big boost to Uganda’s vaccination campaign.

In the infrastructure sector, China has provided its full support to Uganda in terms of the construction of roads. China has supported Uganda’s infrastructure sector especially the construction of roads. The Uganda government believes an improved road network will help the country develop by easing transportation of goods and services in the country. Further, China has also supported Uganda’s energy infrastructure development by extending credit facilities. For example, with the support of a loan from China’s Exim Bank, Uganda was able to construct  Isimba hydro dam which increased the country’s electricity generation. Also, the Karuma hydropower dam which is nearing completion is being funded by China’s Exim bank. In conclusion, the diplomatic relations between Uganda and China have contributed greatly to Uganda’s social and economic development.

Conrad Akunzirwe is a research fellow with Development Watch Centre, a Foreign Policy Think Tank, and a law student at Strathmore University, Nairobi.




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