NEWLY appointed Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho, Lei Kezhong, says he will work hard to strengthen Sino-Lesotho relations during his tenure.
Mr Kezhong said this during a reception to officially welcome him to the country. The reception was held at a hotel in Maseru. Serving and former senior government officials including Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki, former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and former Deputy Prime Ministers Lesao Lehohla and Mothetjoa Metsing all attended the event.
Ministers who attended were Keketso Rantšo (Labour), Moeketsi Majoro (Finance), Joang Molapo (Tourism), Semano Sekatle (Public Service), Mahali Phamotse (Gender), Samonyane Ntsekele (Water) and Tlohelang Aumane (Development Planning). Also present were deputy ministers, Halebonoe Setṧabi (Foreign Affairs) and ‘Manthabiseng Phohleli (Health).
United States ambassador to Lesotho, Rebecca Gonzales, and members of the Chinese community in Lesotho also attended.
Mr Kezhong, who arrived in the country last month, succeeds Mr Sun Xianghua whose tenure ended in September 2018.
Mr Kezhong and Mr Setṧabi toasted to the “good health of His Majesty King Letsie III, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and Chinese President Xi Jinping”.
Mr Kezhong pledged to work tirelessly to maintain and further develop the two countries’ bilateral relations and cooperation stretching over 25 years.
“I am greatly honoured to be the Chinese ambassador to Lesotho and I am keenly aware of my responsibility therefore I shall spare no efforts to fulfil this lofty mission in promoting and strengthening friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.
“Over the past 25 years, China has offered assistance to support Lesotho’s economic and social development and help improve the lives of its people. The practical cooperation in various fields has been steadily expanded,” Mr Kezhong said.
He said the two countries should “join hands in pressing ahead with the implementation of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) 2018 Beijing Summit as well as the Belt and Road Initiative in Lesotho”.
“Let us work together to make China-Lesotho relations a dazzling jewel in the grand China-Africa friendship crown and make our relationship a good example of bilateral relations featuring mutual respect, win-win cooperation, common development and equality of all countries regardless of their size. I also wish to maintain sound working relations with my friends from the diplomatic corps.”
On his part, Mr Setṧabi assured Mr Kezhong of a warm stay and said Lesotho was fully committed to promoting its relations with China.
“Since the holding of the FOCAC summit in 2018, both Africa and China have elevated their bilateral cooperation to greater heights through uplifting their friendship, mutual trust and practical cooperation in all fields.
“For us in Lesotho, we are poised to implement a number of major projects of strategic importance to our socio-economic development. In the last 18 years of its existence, FOCAC has become a beacon of hope for Africa predicated on the spirit of South-South cooperation and mutual benefit.
“It has become the most powerful locomotive for Africa’s development and rejuvenation. We remain resolute in our quest to further accomplish our aspirations for socio-economic development under the framework of FOCAC,” Mr Setṧabi said.