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Interview: President of Botswana’s China visit historic milestone in bilateral ties: Chinese ambassador

Mr Mokgweetsi Masisi

GABORONE, Aug. 29  — With Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi paying a state visit to China from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5 and attending the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in Beijing, China-Botswana ties are at a new starting point with significant development opportunities, the Chinese ambassador to Botswana, Zhao Yanbo, said.

The ambassador said 2018 is a big year for China-Botswana relations. Masisi’s visit is his first trip to China since assuming presidency in April, and also the first visit to China by a head of state of Botswana in 12 years.

“The visit will be a historic milestone in the development of China-Botswana relations,” Zhao said.

China and Botswana have a time-honored friendship since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1975. Over the years, they have been like brothers who share weal and woe and support each other, Zhao said.

China has funded over 40 projects in Botswana, ranging from refurbishing railways and constructing houses to building primary schools. Chinese medical teams have treated more than 2 million people in the African country over the past decades.

During Masisi’s visit, he will hold bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and witness the signing of important cooperation agreements, Zhao said.

Zhao said both China and Botswana have entered a new era in terms of national development. China is willing to align its national development strategy with Botswana’s.

China and Botswana are highly complementary in their economy and have great potential for mutually beneficial cooperation, the envoy said. Botswana is rich in mineral resources and China is the second largest consumer of Botswana’s diamonds.

China is also one of Botswana’s largest project contractors and major trade partners. China will explore the feasibility of increasing imports of diamonds, beef and other products from Botswana.

China has advantages in industrial equipment manufacturing, technology, capital and market. Zhao said the two countries should seize the opportunities to develop bilateral relations under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and FOCAC to bring more tangible benefits to their people.

China welcomes Botswana to participate in the BRI as well as the China International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai in November, Zhao said.

The FOCAC Summit, scheduled for Sept. 3-4, is themed “China and Africa: Toward an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-win Cooperation”.

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