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China strengthens relations

GABORONE - The Chinese government has a clear policy on the respect for intellectual property and combating piracy.

Speaking in his maiden interview since arriving three weeks ago, the new Chinese Ambassador to Botswana, Mr Liu Huanxing said his embassy had for a long time encouraged the Chinese companies in Botswana to operate within the confines of the law.

He explained that since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two countries have collaborated in areas such as trade, health, economy and international affairs.

Mr Huanxing noted that the focus of his term in Botswana would be to do his level best to promote high level exchanges and mutual trust in the field of education, investment and health.

He noted that over the years, the volume of trade between the two countries had increased with China importing more goods from Botswana.

"In the past, China exported more goods to Botswana but since 2007 things have changed as we imported more nickel products from this country," he said.

The Chinese Ambassador also stated that despite the global economic crisis both countries have adopted a series of measures and exchanged experiences to overcome this challenge.

On other issues, he mentioned that a government trade delegation would be visiting Botswana to explore more ways of cooperation and how these could be strengthened.

Currently, he maintained, two medical teams from China are working at the Princess Marina Hospital and the Nyangabwe in Francistown.

In addition, he highlighted that cooperation in public health, academic and scientific areas in relation to HIV/AIDS research.

One of the areas that he promised to work on, is expanding cooperation in railway management and the development of agriculture and self-sufficiency in food production.

He also explained that three agricultural experts from China will be visiting Botswana to offer help where necessary.

A number of cultural exchanges, he noted, have taken place in relation to the two countries and explained that a dance delegation will soon be arriving for a tour of the country.

While most Chinese companies are involved in the construction industry locally, he added that they have also invested in roads and railways as well as housing infrastructure.

He maintained that the Chinese government had always played a significant role in Botswana's education sector.

This year alone, he explained that 22 Batswana students would be sponsored to pursue both undergraduate and post graduate courses in China.

Mr Huanxing highlighted the establishment of the Confucius Institute at the University of Botswana as an important milestone in the relations between the two countries as it will help Batswana to learn and be able to do business with China, in the process eliminating the language barrier.

Furthermore, he said Chinese companies have made a great deal of contribution to economic development in Botswana.

On international affairs, Mr Huanxing explained that China maintains normal relations with the countries and respects other countries'sovereignity.

"The Chinese government has investment in Sudan and also supports international efforts to resolve the conflict in Darfur," he highlighted. This, he said, is evidenced by the sending of Chinese peacekeepers to work hand in hand with the African Union to bring peace to the troubled nation under the auspices of the United Nations.

Before coming to Botswana, Mr Huanxing was the Chinese Ambassador to Barbados until March this year.

(25 May 2009, BOPA)



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