|China pledges to remain equal with developing countries despite its world's 2nd largest GDP|
Chinese Ambassador to Botswana His Excellence Ambassador Liu Huanxing has said China pledges to remain an equal partner with developing countries like Botswana though it may become an economic powerhouse at par with the most industrialized countries.
Huanxing said: “China will remain a member of the developing world, continue to stand by the developing countries and work in unity with them for common development. Never seeking leadership, never competing for supremacy and never seeking hegemony is our basic national policy and strategic choice. In our relations with other countries, we will seek equality, harmonious co-existence, mutual benefit and common development.”
According to page 28, Vol. 60 No.1 January 2011 of China Today, “China and its population of 1.3 billion have created enormous wealth with the world’s second largest GDP. The strong domestic demand was an invaluable asset that protected it from the impact of the 2008/9 global financial crisis and elevated its role in world economic recovery. The Chinese Government resisted a protectionist response to the effect of the global economic recession. Instead it responded to the effects of the global recession by introducing expansionary fiscal and monetary policies to offset the sharp decline in external demand, putting more emphasis on domestic demand to drive gross domestic product (GDP). Of course, China’s GDP per capita is only a tenth of that of the US, ranking only 102nd in the world. But the affluent classes astonish the world with the strong purchasing power.”
Speaking to Echo on the eve of the Chinese New Year celebrated during the first Wednesday of February the Ambassador said the objective of China’s development boils down to: building a harmonious society at home as a way of helping build a harmonious world abroad. The strategy is boldly outlined by the country’s active role in the joint response to global issues such energy and food shortages, climate change, terrorism, natural disasters, infectious diseases, the waning financial crisis as well as the peaceful approach to regional hotspot crises. In the efforts of building an international system, China has become a beneficiary and contributor.
He said by practice, as China pursues reforms and opens up in line with economic globalization trends, forging friendly partnerships with countries such as Botswana through peaceful development and international cooperation, properly handling various problems and frictions, playing constructive roles in international affairs transforming the latter more fairly and rationally, “we will be able to open a path of peaceful development in with current trends, a road leading us to a brighter future.”
Huanxing said the cornerstone of China’s foreign policy, is based on peaceful co-existence, economic cooperation and development enabling it to uphold the win-win strategy of opening up, safeguard its sovereignty, security and economic growth. So to speak, China is ready to partner with other countries; Botswana included, and build a harmonious world of lasting peace and prosperity.
“China is now increasingly integrated into the international community and closed linked with the rest of the world. Stick to the peaceful development path has become paramount on its economic development and external strategy made up of five features. These include, the peaceful, independent, scientific, cooperative and common nature of development,” he said.
Coming closer home, the Ambassador said the China and Botswana diplomatic relations now at their peak, started in 1975, nine years after Botswana’s attainment of Independence (in 1966). Despite China’s economic superiority, the two countries had worked jointly and developed relationships based on the principles of equality, mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual benefit. China and Botswana support each other’s just cause to safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity. For instance, “China gave selfless assistance to Botswana when Batswana fought against harassment from the then racist regimes.”
The two countries’ cooperative relations are embodied through high-level visits, economic and trade cooperation, human resources development, cultural exchanges and international coordination. Of note, under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCACO) started in year 2000, bilateral ties have developed steadily with both gaining confidence on making remarkable progress.
Huanxing stated: “The culmination in the historical development of the China and Botswana bilateral relationship were visibly demonstrated in 2010. His Highness the Botswana Vice President Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe in July officiated at the Botswana Pavilion Day Ceremony at Shanghai World Expo in China. In November the Chinese VP H.E. Mr. Xi Jinping reciprocated the visit to Botswana at the behest of his counterpart Merafhe. During the visits, Botswana and China exchanged views on the furtherance of the development of bilateral relationships, enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas, laying a more solid foundation for high-level diplomatic relations between the two sovereign states. China values its ties and will continue to enhance political trust, expand economic cooperation and strengthen people-to-people exchanges.”
As we go to print, relations between China and Botswana are at their best.
During Xi’s official visit to Botswana, both the President of the Republic of Botswana Seretse Khama Ian Khama and Vice President Merafhe appreciated the Chinese Government and people for their support of Botswana's socio-economic development. Over the past three-and-a-half decades, the Chinese Government has provided loans, grants and technical expertise to numerous local projects. For his part, Vice President Xi thanked Botswana for its longstanding friendship and solidarity, further conveying his country's appreciation to Batswana for their recent sympathy and donation in the wake of this year's flooding disaster in south China.
Despite the downward economic pull of the financial crisis (characterized by universal financial bankruptcy, low demand, low productivity and unemployment,) the two countries through due diligence in bilateral economic and trade cohesion, overcame insurmountable difficulties and experienced economic recovery and growth in 2010.
The Ambassador said construction of the Gaborone Multi-Purpose Youth Centre, funded by the Chinese government interest-free loan should be completed by June 2011. In both countries’ technical exchange programmes both countries consider crucial, officials and technicians from Botswana were invited to participate in workshops in China, courtesy of the Chinese Government sponsorship.
To support the Vision 2016 goal of: “An Educated & Informed Nation” and further strengthen educational cooperation and promote mutual understanding, since 1980 China has been offering the Chinese Government Scholarships to Batswana students. He said eligible Botswana students, study for bachelors, masters or doctoral degrees either as Chinese language students, general or senior scholars, in Chinese higher educational institutions. Since the year 2006 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit, scholarships provided to Botswana students for each academic year have increased from 5 to 20. For example, in 2010, 29 students received full scholarship to study in China. Although Chinese academic programmes cover different fields, student awarded scholarships in 2010 are studying telecommunication & information systems, bio-chemistry, international finance, clinical medicine, urban construction and environmental engineering, to name a few.
For the 2011/2012 academic year, China will provide 21 full scholarships for Botswana students. The period for making applications for the scholarship which opened on January 17 will close on February 28. Interested students can access the Chinese Embassy in Botswana website for more information, he said.
Mr. Doctor Machete the current Chairman of the Botswana-China Friendship Association (BOCFA) and Botswana Soda Ash Information Technology (IT) Manager was among the first batch of Botswana students to graduate in China in (IT) in 1991. In 1986, after being awarded the Chinese Government scholarship, he went through the one-year language course in Chinese. Being some of the pioneer recipients, the lecturers made life easier for students through using practical concepts utilizing prominent physical features such as the Great Wall of China, Yangtze River, and formalities like conveying greetings, counting numerals and money, buying procedures, finding accurate information on or directions of streets and popular spots, colours and sizes of footwear and clothing items. Due to regular weekly assessments, we could converse or shop, or find our way within three months.
Although the IT course appeared difficult during the first few weeks, the breakthrough came after mastering the technical aspects and features of computers, a universal feature across the language divide.
Machete said: “On completion, I worked for the Government Computer Bureau, Botswana Railways and later Botswana Soda Ash. Studying in China broadened my scope and I owe gratitude to the Governments of China and Botswana who made it possible. Since our sojourn to the Far East, China has become one of the world’s cosmopolitan centres famous for IT learning, which our students should take advantage of.”
Machete said BOCFA he is incumbent chairman, was inaugurated in February 2009 to foster Botswana and China people-to-people friendship and understanding without undue government influence. “At the time of its establishment I was the esteemed founding the Association’s President because of my language and cultural advantages. Through B-CFA, we have enhanced mutual understanding between our two nationalities that we expect to reach higher levels with the marching of time.”
He said since the signing of the Agreement on Cultural Cooperation between Botswana and China in 1991, cultural delegations and exhibitionist groups from the two countries have splendid performance to local audiences. During the Botswana Pavilion Day Ceremony of 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, Beijing Botswana-based artists gave an amazing traditional dance and song performance to audiences from the world over.
Twenty-five (25) year-old Odirile Rammon who led a group of 12 traditional dancers and 15 traditional instrument players and participated at the Shanghai Expo in 2010 said he enjoyed every moment of the break-taking atmosphere during extravaganza. Rammon: “I would like to return to China with my dance troupe and showcase Setswana traditional music, dance and part of our culture. I have performed at international events like the celebration of the Botswana’s 40th anniversary of Independence in Brussels, Belgium in 2006, courtesy of the Botswana Embassy. From 2007 to 2008 I was on a facilitated tour as a specialist guest entertainer at the legendary Walt Disney World in the US. My dance troupe cannot wait to get an opportunity to demonstrate our talent as far afield as China.”
To underscore the cooperation, a Chinese cultural troupe paid a successful visit to Botswana in October 2010 in response to an invitation from the Ministry of Youth, Sort and Culture. Likewise, the Chinese Government would like to invite a Botswana dance troupe to promote Setswana culture and art to a Chinese audience. “Cultural exchanges remain greatly important to enrich bilateral relations between Botswana and China. Through these cultural exchanges, peoples from both nations will not only know but appreciate each other”, he said.
Huanxing stated the Confucius Institute at UB officially launched in September 2009 has enrolled more than 300 Batswana students for the Chinese language programme. Apart from equipping the students with linguistic skills, the Institute offers opportunities to learn Chinese history and culture, best portrayed through public activities in future.
One of the recipients of the success stories of the Chinese Government scholarship is former Standard Chartered Bank employee Ms. Natalie Moakhofi who is fluent in Chinese. Moakhofi, a part-time lecturer at the UB Confucius centre teaching Chinese obtained a four-year scholarship, August 2004 to October 2008 and studied the one year course in Chinese, the mandatory pre-college entry before proceeding to the Masters in Management Psychology at the South West University of the Chong Qing City municipality. She worked for one year for the Standard Chartered department strategically established specifically to deal Chinese speaking clients coinciding with her return to Botswana.
Moakhofi said: “Although initially the learning environment was challenged by the fact that even my other four colleagues spoke Spanish and no English just like the entire 1.3 billion Chinese speaking population, I overcame the accompanying frustration through patience, keen interest in the language, culture and socio-economic set up. I should also commend members of the Chinese community for their friendship and harmonious relations from the outset. Within three months I was conversant and could intermingle, socialize or go shopping alone. After excelling in the one year Chinese language programme, I paid for private lessons in order to gain more fluency and become more proficient, while pursuing my studies. I encourage all intending students to enjoy the language programme because it is not only interesting but intriguing and open up doors for professionally communicating with the Chinese community at home and abroad.”
(Echo, 2 Feb 2011)