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FOCAC boosts Botswana-China relations

GABORONE - Relations between Botswana and China are based on the principles of equality, respect as well as mutual trust and benefit says Chinese Ambassador, Mr Liu Huanxing.

Presenting a public lecture on the relations between the two countries at the University of Botswana, Mr Liu said the relations extend to economic and trade cooperation, education and human resources development, cultural and art exchanges as well as smooth coordination in the international arena.

He said under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), relations between the two countries have been boosted.

Mr Liu explained that China and Botswana support each other's efforts to preserve their national independence, state sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In addition, he said the two countries coordinate well on international affairs by protecting the interests of all developing countries.

He said leaders of the two countries attach great importance to the exchange of views and development experience with each other.

He explained that remarkable progress has been achieved in trade and technical cooperation.

He also maintained that in 2008 trade between Botswana and China reached US$360 million and for the first time, Botswana enjoyed a trade surplus with China.

In addition, he said enterprises with much emphasis on investment and contracted projects have all along been actively involved in the economic and social development of Botswana.

Consequently, Mr Liu noted that Chinese companies have provided over 10 000 employment opportunities in Botswana.

In other fields, he said Chinese companies are keen to cooperate with their local counterparts in the service industry such as telecommunications.

Furthermore, he said the Chinese government has provided Botswana with economic assistance including grants, interest free loans and lower interest loans.

Some leading Chinese banks, he said have provided commercial loans to some big projects in Botswana.

"China and Botswana signed the Agreement on Cultural Cooperation in 1991 and Botswana has been one of the tourism destinations for Chinese tourists," he said.

Apart from helping Batswana study in China, he said his country also helps Botswana improve her educational infrastructure.

He said as a way of strengthening the relations, the office of the Chinese Language Council International and the University of Botswana reached an agreement in 2007 to establish the Confucius Institute at UB, saying the institute will be a helpful platform for Chinese language, history and culture teaching and public lectures and events related to China.

He also mentioned that Chinese nationals have made their contributions to the social and economic development of Botswana.

(Daily News, 14 September 2009)

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