The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Govt, China Pledge to Strengthen Defence Cooperation

China and Rwanda, yesterday, during celebrations to mark the 85th Anniverssary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), pledged to strengthen defence cooperation.

Speaking during the event that was held at the Chinese embassy in Kigali, Defence Minister James Kabarebe said that the cooperation framework between Rwanda and China in matters pertaining to Defence has been conducted through agreements and visits of officials from both sides, noting that it is important to consider widening the scope of cooperation further.

Kabarebe added that "we shall strive to strengthen further our relationship and cooperation for the benefit of our two peoples."

The Chinese Ambassador Shu Zhan echoed Kabarebe's pledge saying that there is a lot the Chinese army can learn from RDF, and this necessitated strengthening of ties.

"PLA and RDF are important forces for the security of our countries and peace of the region, on the world peace keeping stage. The two armies have many experiences they can share and learn from each other including peacekeeping," Shu Zhan said.

The Chinese Ambassador further called upon the two armies to consolidate and enhance their friendship in order to contribute to peace in the world.

Kabarebe who was the Chief Guest, noted that Rwanda as a nation has also gone through a relatively similar path of liberation like that of China from dictatorship through a four-year struggle.

He noted that the role of PLA and RDF in contributing to national development of the two countries has been possible due to political consciousness of the two armed forces right from their liberation struggles.

"It's important to consider widening the scope of cooperation further. Our defense has enjoyed a cordial relationship with the Chinese Military for quite a long time particularly in training and logistic support in different areas," he noted.

Kabarebe further noted that 125 officers and men from Rwanda have benefited from training in China since 2008, which, he said has been fundamental in the process of professionalizing RDF in the post war era, something that was highly needed.

The People's Liberation Army of China was established in 1927 from among peasants by Chairman Mao and is the world's largest military force.

With the help of this army, China has sent over 12,000 peace keeping staff to Africa in the past 20 years.

Kabarebe in paying tribute to the PLA observed that China has risen to become the second biggest economy in the world because of the defeat of the nationalists in China in 1949, something that led to the establishment of the People's Republic of China.

The Defence minister also said that the improved standards of living of the Chinese people have "marked a true liberation and a translation of the real political ideology of the Peoples Liberation Army into reality."

Kabarebe observed that RDF "believes in and works towards being the foundation for the development of Rwanda," adding that through this RDF enjoys the full support and confidence of Rwandans.

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