|Remarks by H.E. Mr. Zheng Zhuqiang, Ambassador of China to Botswana, At the Welcome Reception|
(10th July 2013)
Hon. Phandu Skelemani, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,
Honorable Ministers and other government officials,
Your Excellencies, members of Diplomatic Corps and International Organizations,
Dear colleagues and friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you very much for coming here today to give me the opportunity to say “Ni Hao” to all of you. It's a great pleasure to see so many friends in this yard. Your presence is certainly an honor for me, and more importantly it shows your commitment to China-Botswana friendship. Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to you for your support to China-Botswana relationship.
I am so pleased to come to Africa again. Africa never seems far from my life, because I have spent much of my career either working in Africa or in the African department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing. Before I became the Chinese Ambassador to Botswana, I have visited this country three times. Each time, it gave me deep impressions for its ever stable political situation, fast growing economy and friendly people.
In my first 2 months on the job, I have received warm welcome from both Botswana Government and its people. It is on the same day of my arrival that a meeting with Foreign Minister Hon. Phandu Skelemani was arranged. Only one week later, H.E. Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama accepted my credentials, which once again highlights the importance that Botswana Government attaches to China-Botswana relationship.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Botswana 38 years ago, the two countries have enjoyed a very fruitful bilateral relationship and benefited immensely from the mutual exchanges and win-win cooperation.
The two sides have enhanced political mutual trust through high level exchanges. Sir Seretse Khama, Sir Ketumile Masire and H.E. Festus Mogae all made state visit to China. Chinese then Vice President and now President Xi Jinping visited Botswana in 2010.
Economic cooperation has been strengthened enormously. China now is the third largest trade partner of Botswana and the third largest consumer of Botswana’s diamond. In the past decade, China’s investment in Botswana increases gradually. Chinese companies are active players in Botswana’s construction, service and manufacturing industries, and have made contributions to Botswana’s economic diversification.
China has provided economic assistance to Botswana’s development in forms of grant, interest-free loan and concessional loan, which were used to finance the renovation and upgrading of 587 kilometers of railway, the construction of more than 200 kilometers of Letlhakeng-Kang road, the construction of 717 residential houses and two primary schools. Last December, the construction of Gaborone Multi-purpose Youth Center was finished and handed over to Botswana Government. This year, Chinese Government will help finish the second phase of that center. China is also willing to finance and build two more schools for Botswana.
In the mean time, the two sides maintains increasing people-to-people exchanges in fields of culture, health, education and human resources. Cultural delegations, art troupes and exhibition groups visit each other frequently. Since 1981, China has sent 373 medical experts to Botswana and treated more than 2 million Botswana patients. In 2009, the University of Botswana and China’s Shanghai Normal University jointly established Confucius Institute in UB. It gives Chinese language courses for Botswana people. And each year from 2012, China will provide 62 scholarships for Botswana students.
However, it should also be noted that while our relationship and cooperation grows deeper and more interdependent, we are also experiencing some growing pains in our economic cooperation. Recently, there are some misunderstanding and controversial comments towards Chinese companies and nationals in Botswana. I may use this opportunity to point out that Chinese companies and nationals in Botswana are mainly doing business in the infrastructure, trade and service industry. The Chinese companies have made a great contribution to Botswana’s infrastructure development since 1990s and most construction projects were finished on time with good workmanship. Only a few projects are delayed and reasons for that are many-sided. The Chinese traders have provided affordable products with relatively good quality to Botswana people and enriched the local market supply. In fact, most Chinese nationals in Botswana are law-abiding and welcomed by local people. Sometimes the problem has more to do with language barrier and cultural differences. As Chinese President Xi Jinping stated in Tanzania early this year, ‘There will always be more opportunities than challenges and more solutions than difficulties’. China will face squarely and sincerely the new circumstances and new challenges, and will continue to work closely with Botswana to take concrete measures to make bilateral economic cooperation develop more smoothly.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forth a vision for China’s future development, which is called the ‘Chinese Dream’. Its core is to build a prosperous China, realize national rejuvenation and ensure better lives for the Chinese people. There are two specific goals to fulfill the ‘Chinese Dream’. The first is to double China's GDP and per capita income of the year 2010 by the year 2020. The second is to turn China into a socialist modernized country, by the middle of this century, that is prosperous, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious.
The Chinese people are now working hard to realize the ‘Chinese Dream’, and the Botswana people are also united in implementing NDP10 and achieving the goals of Vision 2016. We should enhance unity, cooperation, mutual support and assistance so as to make our dreams come true. I therefore look forward to working closely with the government and people of Botswana to further increase mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples and promote bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields. I do believe that both ‘Chinese Dream’ and ‘Botswana Dream’ will be realized as envisioned.
Now, may I propose a toast,
To the health of H. E. Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana,
To the growing friendship between China and Botswana,
To the health of everyone present here,