Tonight, we gather here to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. First of all, on behalf of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, I would like to express my warmest welcome to all the distinguished guests for your presence. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to our Botswana friends from all walks of life who have long been committed to the development of China-Botswana relations. In just a few days, Botswana will celebrate the 52nd Independence Day. Let us wish our two countries prosperity and progress and our two peoples an everlasting friendship.
Ladies and Gentlemen, 69 years of the founding of the People’s Republic have witnessed significant change of China from the least developed country to one of the world’s top economies. As you may know, the key to the success story of China’s development is the policy of reform and opening-up. This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. Since 1978, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese people have been forging ahead with perseverance and determination and enormously transformed China. Today, we have successfully embarked on a path of socialism with distinctive Chinese features and achieved remarkable economic and social development.
Over the last four decades, China has grown into the world’s second largest economy, the largest industrial producer, the largest trader of goods, and the holder of the largest foreign exchange reserves. China’s GDP has averaged an annual growth rate of around 9.5% in comparable prices and its foreign trade has registered an annual growth of 14.5% in US dollar.
Over the last four decades, the living standards of the Chinese people have been greatly improved. We have emerged from a life of shortages and poverty and are now enjoying abundant supply and a moderately prosperous life. More than 700 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty, accounting for more than 70% of the global total over the same period. Growth of urban and rural personal incomes has outpaced economic growth, and our middle-income group has been expanding.
Over the last four decades, China has adopted the right approach to development and endeavored to transform the growth model. Emerging industries like the digital economy are thriving. The construction of high-speed railways, highways, bridges, ports, airports, and other types of infrastructure has picked up pace. The level of urbanization has risen by an annual average of 1.2 percentage points. And the innovation-driven development strategy is making China a country of innovators, with major advances made in science and technology.
Over the last four decades, China has embraced the world with open arms and actively contributed our share to the world. From “bringing in” to “going global”, from WTO accession to the Belt and Road Initiative, China has made significant contribution in coping with the Asian financial crisis and the global financial crisis. Contributing over 30% of global growth in recent years, China has become a key anchor and driver for the world economy and a positive force in advancing the noble cause of global peace and development.
While developing itself, China pursues a path of common development. Over the years, China has done its best to help Africa’s development and shared our development outcomes with Africa. In line with the principle of sincerity, friendship and equality in our cooperation with Africa, China successfully held the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit earlier this month, during which leaders of China and 53 Africa countries reached consensus on building an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future through win-win cooperation. The Summit is a milestone in the history of China-Africa relations, with the Beijing Declaration and Beijing Action Plan 2019-2022 being unanimously adopted. It has provided guidance to our future cooperation with Africa and lifted China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership to new heights.
In our relations with Africa, China follows a "five-no" approach: no interference in African countries’ pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions; no interference in African countries’ internal affairs; no imposition of our 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. China stands as Africa's good friend, good partner and good brother.
In building a China-Africa community with a shared future, China focuses on six major areas of cooperation with Africa, which include increasing political dialogue at various levels, aligning the Belt and Road Initiative with the AU Agenda 2063, the UN 2030 Agenda and the development programs of African countries, making sure our cooperation more people oriented, strengthening the people-to-people bond, promoting peace and stability in Africa, and working with Africa to pursue sustainable development.
To substantiate China-Africa win-win cooperation, China will launch eight major initiatives in the next three years and beyond in the areas of industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchange and peace and security. To make sure that these initiatives are implemented on the ground, China will extend $60 billion of financing to Africa in the form of government assistance as well as investment and financing by financial institutions and companies. Financing will be carried out at mutually agreed terms based on equal consultation and win-win principle. Therefore, the talking of China causing debt trap for Africa cannot stand on its own. These initiatives will bring huge benefits to African and Chinese peoples and contribute to the promising future of China-Africa cooperation.
China and Botswana have enjoyed time-tested friendship and firm mutual support since the establishment of our diplomatic ties back in 1975. The year 2018 is historical in the development of our bilateral relations. As you all know, earlier this month, H.E. President Masisi paid a state visit to China and attended the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, which ushered in a new era for China-Botswana relationship. With the joint efforts of both sides, this milestone visit was very successful and achieved a number of significant outcomes:
First, the visit maintained the good momentum of high-level exchanges between our two countries, which provided political guidance for the development of our bilateral relations. President Xi Jinping held very good, friendly and fruitful talks with President Masisi. The two heads of state agreed to raise bilateral ties to a new level. The visit has not only strengthened the sound relationship between the two leaders but also injected new impetus to the development of our bilateral relations. As President Xi Jinping suggested, we will aim high and look far, increase mutual trust and deepen cooperation to raise bilateral ties to a new high. I am confident that our bilateral relations will be certainly on development fast track.
Second, the visit better aligned development strategies of China and Botswana with highlight on trade, investment and tourism. President Masisi made clear that Botswana would take advantage of Belt and Road Initiative to carry out infrastructure projects to benefit the development of Botswana. During the visit, China and Botswana signed four cooperative documents, ranging from trade and investment to economic and technical cooperation. President Masisi and his delegation had a very extensive engagement with both Chinese officials and businessmen. Both sides had an in-depth exploration of cooperation opportunities in areas such as infrastructure, ICT and manufacture, where China has strength to provide support to Botswana. Meanwhile, China would also explore measures to increase import of diamonds, beef from Botswana and encourage Botswana to attract more Chinese tourists.
Third, the visit consolidated the traditional friendship between our two peoples. Friendship, which derives from close contact between the peoples, holds the key to sound state-to-state relations. Over the years, people-to-people exchanges between China and Botswana have not only brought the two peoples closer but also laid a solid foundation for the continuous growth of our friendship. With President Masisi’s successful visit, I’m sure we will embrace a new round of exchanges and cooperation between our two countries in culture, art and education as well, which will further strengthen the bond between the peoples of China and Botswana.
Our friends in Africa say that if you want to go fast, walk alone; and if you want to go far, walk together. With about 1.4 billion Chinese people and over 1.2 billion African people joining together, we can pool the utmost wisdom and strength to realize both the Chinese Dream and the African Dream. Let us dedicate ourselves to openness and win-win outcomes, be bold to change and break new ground, and keep striving for a community with a shared future for mankind and a better tomorrow for China and Botswana.
I propose a toast,
To the 69th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China,
To the 52nd anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Botswana,
To the prosperity of China and Botswana,
To the growing friendship between our two peoples,
To the well-being and health of everyone present today,
*Remarks by H.E. Dr ZHAO Yanbo, Chinese Ambassador to Botswana at the Reception Celebrating the 69th Anniversary of The Founding of the People’s Republic of China