LESOTHO and other African countries are set to benefit from increased development assistance from China which resolved to open up its markets and expand its international commitments in the aftermath of the ruling Communist Party of China’s 19th National Congress which was held in October this year in China.
This was said by China’s Ambassador to Lesotho, Sun Xianghua, at a multi-stakeholder symposium that was held yesterday at the Chinese Embassy in Maseru.
The symposium was held to brief local stakeholders on the implications of the CPC’s 19th National Congress on China’s relations with African countries especially Lesotho.
The congress re-elected President Xi Jinping to the helm of the CPC and also mapped China’s development blueprint for the next five years.
Yesterday’s event was attended by officials from the National University of Lesotho, Morija Museum as well as the media.
Among other outcomes of the congress, Dr Xianghua, said that China would further open up its economy to other countries, saying this would result in a mutually beneficial relationship where China would access products and services which it needed to grow its economy. In return, Lesotho and other countries could develop their own economies by taking advantage of the further opening up of China to provide the products and services it required.
To this end, Dr Xianghua announced that China would host an International Import Expo next year in November which would facilitate the structuring of mutually beneficial trade deals.
“China will host an International Import Expo from 5 to 10 November 2018 as the aim is to uphold the open policy as fundamental national policy which will enable China to work together with international community to develop its economy,” Dr Xianghua said.
“In the next five years, China is expected to import products and services worth more than US$10 trillion so the expo will allow on the spot negotiations and purchases for domestic and foreign buyers.
“We will provide necessary assistance and support to developing countries, especially the least developed via incentives and free exhibition booths.”
Dr Xianghua called upon Lesotho to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the expo to secure deals that would boost its economic sectors, particularly in the areas of textiles and tourism.
“Lesotho is the leading exporter of textiles in sub-Saharan Africa and also possess a beautiful country rich in tourism so it is our sincere hope that Basotho enterprises will take advantage of the expo.
“The benefits will not stop there as we aim to build a one-stop transaction platform to offer online and offline services and continue to provide exhibition and transaction services between expos.”
Dr Xianghua also revealed that the congress had re-affirmed China’s commitment to a global governance system that is based on consultation and discussion, cooperation and collaboration.
He emphasised China’s respect and demand for equality among nations whether big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor.
“China supports multilateralism and economic globalisation as well as international trade and investment facilitation. China will continue to be the engine of world’s economic growth. It will also provide greater opportunity for other countries to benefit from China’s continuous development.
“However, China’s foreign policy has two key elements, namely to build a community with a shared future for mankind and to construct a new form of international relations characterised by mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation.
“The necessity for building a shared future for mankind and a new form of international relations is that the trend of multi-polarity, economic globalisation, information technology applications and cultural diversity is surging forward. Global governance and the international order are transforming while interdependence is deepening. No single country can address these challenges alone.”
He said the core principles of a shared future for mankind included lasting peace, universal security, common prosperity, inclusiveness of cultures and civilisations, a clean and beautiful environment while major characteristics of the new form of international relations should include mutual respect among countries, win-win cooperation, fairness and justice.
Dr Xianghua also re-emphasised China’s policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries, saying, Lesotho should be allowed to find its own solutions to its political and development challenges by pursuing the multi-sectoral reforms it deemed best suited to its own conditions just like China had modified the tenants of Marxism to suit its own material conditions.
He said foreign nations could only provide assistance in an atmosphere of equality when called upon to do so.
To this end, he said, China remained a consistent friend and would continue to provide capacity building through human resource training.
“The boat of China-Lesotho friendship and cooperation will navigate for a brighter future with a full blown sail”.
“We will ensure Lesotho, as our trusted reliable friend, participates in all sectors of China-Africa initiatives but this needs efforts from both sides.
“China has this year provided training to more than 320 Basotho. We will pay more attention to infrastructure in near future and talks to construct a road to Sehlabathebe National Park as well as a dam in Leribe are almost complete.
“China Development Bank has offices in South Africa and also has major shares in Standard Bank South Africa which will be looked at to solicit funds for Basotho for them to be able to get low interest loans and funding.”
Dr Xianghua also pledged China’s commitment to reforming multi-lateral organisations like the United Nations to ensure equal participation and representation of all countries.