HARARE – The restoration of China’s lawful seat in the United Nations in 1971 was “one of the major achievements” in his career, said a former envoy of Zambia to the global agency.
In an interview with Xinhua ahead of the 50th anniversary of the milestone event, which falls on Oct. 25, Vernon Mwaanga, Zambia’s ambassador to the UN from 1968 to 1972, reminisced about how Africa supported China’s return to the UN.
Mwaanga said the African representatives felt obliged to change the situation because they believed there was no way that Taiwan, which is part of China, could represent China.
Pushing for the adoption of a resolution over the matter was not easy, as some Western countries, including the United States, were determined to maintain the status quo, the former diplomat said.
“You can imagine how frustrating it was for us, because we first sponsored the resolution in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970 and finally succeeded in 1971,” Mwaanga said.
Zambia is one of the 23 countries that had earlier jointly submitted a draft resolution supporting the restoration of China’s lawful seat in the UN.
To counter the move of the United States, the African group sought support from other countries and asked them to be co-sponsors of the resolution, which needed a two-thirds majority to get passed, Mwaanga said.
“So by the time we were finishing with voting, it was quite late at night and when it was announced, we were all very happy,” he said.
Mwaanga, who was asked to speak on behalf of the African group in welcoming the Chinese delegation’s debut in the UN General Assembly on Nov. 15, 1971, described that the atmosphere was joyful during that historic moment.
He stressed that China has, no doubt, played a major role in the UN system during the last 50 years in such aspects as safeguarding global peace and security.
Mwaanga, who also served as Zambia’s foreign minister, said that Zambia will always be grateful to China for financing and constructing the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority rail line because many other countries refused to render assistance.
China-Africa relations, he said, have been strong in the last 50 years, during which China has helped African countries fight poverty, and improve health care, education, and infrastructure.
He believes that the China-Africa relations have a bright future because the growth prospect of the ties has been further cemented by the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative, which have both been embraced by African countries.
Referring to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Mwaanga observed that there has been a global disparity in terms of COVID-19 vaccines, a situation that has led to Africa falling behind in terms of vaccinating its population.
He thanked China for providing African countries with vaccines and other medical supplies, and further commended China for its response to the pandemic, saying that the rest of the world should learn from China’s handling of the public health crisis.