Gaborone — Botswana will as part of its transformational agenda seize opportunities offered by Forum on China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) to advance its development and improve citizens' lives.
Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Unity Dow said this Tuesday at the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Botswana and China as well as the 2020 Chinese Lunar year celebration.
Botswana, she said, appreciated FOCAC as a vital framework contributing to efforts of advancing the cause of Africa's socioeconomic development.
"As we approach 50 years of partnership, our wish as Botswana is to continue to enhance our capacity to trade with China in many sectors. China's progressive reforms also offer many opportunities for economic development. For example, China is keen to grow its digital economy and has companies with technology that complement Botswana's plans to create a knowledge based economy," she said.
At bilateral level, she said Botswana and China had through their mutually beneficial partnership achieved enviable records of development. Dr Dow attributed the achievements to the two countries' shared commitment of ensuring that human development and poverty reduction remained central to their economic development strategies.
She said Botswana attached high importance to its relations with China and was proud to be celebrating 45 years of fruitful friendship and cooperation.
It was pleasing, she said, that under the guidance of successive leaders, relations between Botswana and China had expanded and deepened.
"The state visit to China in 2018 by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi bears testimony to this enduring relationship. Together with President Xi Jinping, the two leaders were very clear in their intentions to strengthen the Botswana-China partnership," she added.
Dr Dow said the two countries had over 30 bilateral agreements and Memoranda of Understanding covering social, economic, technical and technological cooperation as well as human resource development.
She said as a result of engagements at various levels, Botswana and China had witnessed increased growth in areas such as trade and investment, tourism as well as people to people interaction.
Dr Dow said the two countries placed much importance on multilateral diplomacy which sought durable global solutions to urgent issues of human development.For his part, Chinese ambassador to Botswana, Dr Zhao Yanbo, said the two countries adhered to an independent foreign policy of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.
"In the meantime, as guardians of the international order and champions of multilateralism, we share broad consensus on international affairs and are both committed to upholding the common interests of developing countries," he said.Dr Zhao said China's assistance to Botswana included helping build the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).
He said there were over 40 China aided projects in Botswana.
In addition, Dr Zhao said China had in the past 40 years dispatched to Botswana 15 medical teams comprising over 500 doctors and nurses sponsored thousands of Batswana to study in the Asian country.He said the two countries' relationship was at a new historic starting point with opportunities for stronger growth.
The Lunar New Year was celebrated with various art performances depicting Chinese traditions. 2020 is the Year of the Rat, which symbolises wisdom and prosperity.
Source : BOPA