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Move Forward China-Lesotho Cooperation With FOCAC Beijing Summit

By Changqing Song, the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of  Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of Lesotho

ON THE 3rd and 4th of September 2018, the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was convened with remarkable success. The President of the People’s Republic of China H.E. Mr. Xi Jinping and African leaders including 40 presidents, 10 Prime Ministers and one Vice Prime Minister gathered to renew the China-Africa friendship and discuss plans on future cooperation. The Summit has revealed to the world the strong political will of China and Africa forging ahead through win-win cooperation and erected a new monument of China-Africa solidarity and cooperation.

H.E. Mr. Xi Jinping elaborated comprehensively on the Summit on China’s policy towards Africa in the new era. He emphasised that China follows a “five-no” approach, namely: no interference in African countries’ pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions, no interference in African countries’ internal affairs, no imposition of China’s will on African countries, no attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa, and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation with Africa. He advocated to build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future featured with joint responsibility, win-win cooperation, benefits for all, cultural prosperity, common security and harmony between man and nature. President Xi’s statements have enriched the China-Africa relations with new soul and connotation.

The summit has adopted the Beijing Declaration and the Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021) and proved to be a pragmatic summit with fruitful outcomes. President Xi announced that China will launch in close collaboration with African countries Eight Major Initiatives including industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchange as well as peace and stability, and to implement the Eight Major Initiatives, China will extend US$ 60 billion of financing to Africa in forms of government assistance and investment and financing by financial institutions and companies. In view of the present status of Africa’s development and conforming to the actual needs of Africa, the Eight Major Initiatives reflected China’s sincerity and political will in supporting the development of Africa and opened up a new bright future for the China-Africa Cooperation.

As a Chinese proverb goes, “only friendship built on affinity between the peoples can endure”. China and Africa are always each other’s sincere friends and reliable partners throughout the history, from supporting each other’s struggles for national independence and liberty, to jointly seeking development and rejuvenation through win-win cooperation. As the Right Honorable Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho Dr. Motsoahae Thomas Thabane recently said in an interview: “The FOCAC Beijing Summit is another clear testimony of China’s commitment to Africa, and its interest in raising the level of development, not only in specific countries in Africa but in Africa in general. China is not being a friend by word of mouth. It is being a friend through actions.”

The recent trip of the Prime Minister Honorable Thabane to China to participate the Beijing Summit which was also combined with an official bilateral visit, is 13 years apart from the last official visit by a Lesotho Prime Minister. During the visit, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang respectively met with Prime Minister Thabane, while Premier Li held a grand welcoming ceremony and banquet for the Prime Minister. The leaders of both sides reached extensive consensus and mapped out strategic plans on further deepening the China-Lesotho relations. During the visit, several agreements were signed respectively on China offering to Lesotho a further grant of M300 million and a batch of M50 million worth of food aid, the feasibility study of the Maseru Fire Station and Vehicles Project and the Agricultural Storage and Logistic Infrastructure Project as well as strengthening bilateral cooperation in culture and capacity building. There is no doubt that this visit was indeed of historical significance and will surely uplift the China-Lesotho relations to a new level and bring more benefits to the two countries and peoples.

Another old Chinese saying goes, “not even mountains and seas can separate people with the same goals and visions”. Though separated by vast oceans and different in national conditions, China and Lesotho are good friends, brothers and partners who treat each other with sincerity, amity and mutual respect. China adheres to the following principles in advancing her relations and cooperation with Lesotho:

  • China and Lesotho always treat each other with equality and mutual respect. China never interferes in Lesotho’s domestic affairs, respects Basotho’s choice and decision on their own political, economic and social issues, and supports the government and people of Lesotho to explore a development path that fits its own national conditions.
  • China never imposes its own will on Lesotho in the cooperation with Lesotho. On the contrary, China respects the choice and preference of Lesotho. All governmental cooperation projects are implemented from a list in priority decided by the Lesotho government, follows the principles Initiated by Lesotho, Participated by Lesotho and Benefiting Lesotho, and are never attached to any political conditions.
  • China puts emphasis on “showing the other how to fish” instead of “giving the other fish” in its cooperation with Lesotho, aiming at enhancing Lesotho’s ability of self-reliant and sustainable development. Over the three years since the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit, to promote Lesotho’s human resources development China has donated a Friendship Middle School, provided more than 800 training opportunities in various areas, and increased the number of Chinese government scholarships for Basotho students to over 40 annually.
  • China emphasizes on the tactic of “building nest to attract phoenix”, and is dedicated to helping Lesotho develop infrastructure which is the key foundation for economic growth. Once completed, the China aided projects including the Ha Mpiti-Sehlabathebe road, the Mafeteng solar power plant, the Hlotse multi-purpose hydropower complex will be of significant importance in boosting the tourism, agriculture and the economy of relevant districts and the whole country as well.
  • China never makes empty promises and is result-orientated in its cooperation with Lesotho. Since the Johannesburg Summit, China has provided Lesotho with more than 13 thousand metric tonnes of emergent food aid in three consecutive years and implemented or signed on several major cooperation projects, showcasing the “China speed” in carrying out governmental cooperation and assistances with Africa.

In Africa there is such a proverb which reads: “A man cannot sit down alone to plan for prosperity”. The FOCAC Beijing Summit has created new valuable opportunities and opened up a new bright future for the China-Africa as well as China-Lesotho cooperation. China would like to work hand in hand with the government of Lesotho and friends from all walks of life, taking full advantage of the current historical opportunity, to fully implement the outcomes of the Beijing Summit and strengthen bilateral cooperation for more achievements, thus turning on a new chapter for China-Lesotho relations.

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