Chinese Ambassador H.E. Dr. Zhao Yanbo Contributes an Article in Commemoration of the 45th Anniversary of China-Botswana Diplomatic Relations to Botswana Guardian

Recently, Ambassador H.E. Dr. Zhao Yanbo contributed an article entitled New Starting Point for China-Botswana Relations, New Journey for Friendly Cooperation, in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of China-Botswana diplomatic relations to Botswana Guardian, a local newspaper. The full text is as follows:



New Starting Point for China-Botswana Relations,

New Journey for Friendly Cooperation


45 years ago, with extraordinary courage and foresight, Botswana's Founding President H.E. Sir Seretse Khama made a historic decision to forge diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. On 6th January 1975, representatives of China and Botswana singed the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations at UN headquarters, which opened a new chapter of our friendly relations.


45 years later, China-Botswana relations have achieved rapid development on the basis of profound traditional friendship, and the outcomes of our cooperation in various fields have brought tangible benefits to our two peoples.


These 45 years have witnessed visionary leadership guiding our bilateral relations. The leaders of our two countries both attach great importance to the development of China-Botswana relations. H.E. Sir Seretse Khama visited China the year after the establishment of our diplomatic relations. Former Presidents H.E. Ketumile Masire and H.E. Festus Mogae visited China many times. More recently, Chinese President H.E. Xi Jinping, then Vice President, visited Botswana in 2010. H.E. Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi paid a state visit to China and attended the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2018. These high-level visits have helped cement the foundation of the overall China-Botswana relations.


These 45 years have witnessed close partnership aiming at common development. China has now become one of the main trading partners of Botswana. The total trade volume between us has jumped from less than half a million US dollars in early 1980's to nearly 300 million last year. Within its capacity, China has supported Botswana in economic development and livelihood improvement by implementing more than 40 projects, such as renovating railways, building residential houses and constructing schools. A new batch of cooperation programs, notably the Mmopane Primary School, the new Kazungula Primary School, and the Nata-Maun Road are making smooth progress and will become the highlights of China-Botswana cooperation in this new era.


These 45 years have witnessed increasing interactions between our two peoples. Over the years, 15 Chinese medical teams with a total of about 500 doctors and nurses have worked in Botswana, providing medical care to more than 2 million local patients. Over 2000 Botswana citizens in various sectors have benefited from scholarships and training programs funded by the Chinese government. Thousands of students have studied Chinese language and culture in the Confucius Institute at the University of Botswana. And the number of Botswana people visiting China has reached 3000 annually. The friendship and mutual understanding between our peoples are growing day by day.


The year 2020 is a significant year for both China and Botswana. It will be a key milestone in China's development as we achieve the first centenary goal of realizing a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and eliminate absolute poverty for the first time in Chinese history. Also in 2020, under the leadership of President Masisi and the new government, Botswana will further accelerate her transformation to a knowledge-based economy, and seek to make new progress on the road towards high-income status. Standing at a new starting point, China-Botswana relations are ready to embark on a new journey.


This new journey calls for more frequent exchanges at all levels. History proves that mutual visits of visionary leaders can always provide political guidance to the development of our bilateral relations, and exchanges between the two governments and peoples serve as a constant driving force for our partnership. Therefore, it is important for us to keep the current momentum of bilateral exchanges and encourage our officials, entrepreneurs, think-tanks, media and people from all walks of life to visit each other more frequently so as to enhance our communication and dialogues across the board, and further strengthen our strategic trust, mutual support and cooperation.


This new journey calls for better alignment of development strategies. China and Botswana are highly complementary economically and share tremendous prospects for cooperation. China's Belt and Road Initiative, the FOCAC platform, and the development strategies of Africa and Botswana are mutually reinforcing, which provides new opportunities and new drivers for China-Botswana cooperation. We need to unlock new cooperation potential, synergize development strategies, and expand practical cooperation in such areas as investment, infrastructure, agriculture, ICT and tourism so that we can deliver real benefits to our two peoples.


This new journey calls for stronger solidarity in the international arena. Both as developing countries, China and Botswana always consider development as our top priority. But confronted with unilateralism and trade protectionism, the international order and system on which we live and thrive may collapse if we give a free pass to the supremacy of unchecked national interests. That would be an unacceptable outcome for all of us, particularly small-and-medium-sized countries. As responsible members of the international community and staunch defenders of multilateralism, we need to continue to uphold the shared interests of the developing world by promoting international fairness, equity and win-win results.


On the occasion of the 45th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, I feel privileged to witness this historic moment as the Chinese Ambassador to Botswana. Having worked here for three years, I believe more than ever before that this is a country of great potential and China-Botswana cooperation has no limits. I have full confidence that under the guidance of our leaders and with the staunch and tireless efforts from us all, we will make more progress on our new journey towards common development and prosperity, and build a more promising future for China-Botswana relations in the new era.

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