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China calls for closer Sino-Lesotho ties

Mohalenyane Phakela

THE Vice President of the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA), Ou Boqian, has called for closer ties and cooperation between Chinese and local youths to foster entrepreneurship and economic development in Lesotho.

Ms Boqian was the head of a 51-member Chinese youth delegation which was recently in the country to explore ways of enhancing cooperation on development issues with their Basotho counterparts.

The delegation arrived in Maseru on Monday and held discussions with the Basotho Federation of Youth before departing for South Africa on Wednesday.

The two parties agreed to work closely on innovative solutions to the challenges faced by youths in the two countries in coming up with sustainable entrepreneurial and development projects.

Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho Dr Sun Xianghua

The visit of the Chinese delegation comes just a month before the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) which will be held in Beijing, China in September.

The China-Africa Cooperation Forum is held on three yearly intervals and it was first held in 2000 in Beijing and thereafter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2003.

The forum returned to Beijing in 2006 then Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt in 2009, Beijing again in 2012. Since the last forum in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2015, Lesotho has benefitted from FOCAC in the sectors of infrastructure, health, agriculture and human resource training.

Some of the benefits include the construction of a new state house, the donation of medical equipment as well as training for 1000 Basotho in China to improve Lesotho’s skills base in various sectors.

Speaking on the occasion of the recent visit by the Chinese delegation, Ms Boqian emphasised the importance of cooperation between Chinese and Basotho youths to foster economic development in the two countries.

“The Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs was formed in 1949 to promote cultural exchange between China and the rest of the world but since the dawn of FOCAC, it has been working on strengthening the FOCAC framework,” Ms Boqian said.

“This is the first (Chinese) youth delegation to visit Africa and I believe this is the first of many exchange programmes to follow. Since our arrival we found Lesotho to be a friendly and very beautiful country.

“We met with a delegation of Lesotho youths and in our discussions, we learned that youths in the two countries all suffer from the lack of unemployment. We agreed to encourage the youth to work together and be more creative in the fields of culture, infrastructure and innovation. After the FOCAC summit, we will launch projects in various sectors which will see Chinese and Basotho youths working together,” she added.

Ms Boqian and her team subsequently donated M40 000 worth of groceries to Maseru Children’s Village.

The groceries included five gas tanks, 25 bags of flour and maize meal, tinned fish, beans and toiletries.

Ms Boqian said the donation was aimed at improving the welfare of the children, adding that she hoped the children from the centre would one day participate in exchange programmes between the two countries.

Her sentiments were echoed by the Chinese ambassador to Lesotho, Sun Xianghua.

“The children are here (at the centre) because they were abused or orphaned by HIV. The donations are a form of encouragement for them and I hope they will find influence to become helpful and important beings in Lesotho when they grow up.

“When we told the delegation about this home, they did not hesitate to come and share their love through donations and I also hope the groceries will go a long way to sustain lives. The donations are a clear commitment from the Chinese youth to their Lesotho friends.

“A month from now, Prime Minister (Thomas) Thabane will attend the FOCAC to discuss with Chinese leaders issues of bilateral cooperation and economic development. I hope this will result in a bright future from which many Basotho children, including these ones at the village, will benefit from FOCAC,” Dr Xianghua said.

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Halebonoe Set?abi also attended the hand-over ceremony of the groceries.

 

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