The new Chinese Ambassador to Botswana Zheng Zhuqiang is deeply worried by the attacks and controversial comments made towards Chinese companies and nationals locally.
According to Zhuqiang, the Chinese companies have made a great contribution to Botswana’s infrastructure since 1990, with a good number of the construction projects being completed on time with good workmanship. Out of all the projects, only a few were delayed due to various reasons. He was speaking during his welcome reception this week Wednesday.
“Sometimes the problem has more to do with language barrier and cultural differences. China will face squarely and sincerely the new circumstances and challenges. We will continue to work closely with Botswana to take concrete measures to make bilateral economic cooperation develop smoothly,” he said. He also said that Chinese traders have provided affordable products with relatively good quality to Botswana people and enriched the local supply market. In fact, he said that most of the Chinese people were law-abiding residents who had been welcomed by the locals.
There have been a number of reports regarding constructions that were cundertaken by Chinese nationals but were either delayed beyond their timeline or did not meet the set requirements. Some of these projects that have caused a national outcry includethe Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, Kang-Hukuntsi road, Francistown Airport, Francistown stadium and others.
In other issues, the Ambassador hailed the relationship between his government and Botswana. Since the birth of this relationship 38 years ago both countries have enjoyed a rich bilateral ties. Presently China is ranked as the third largest trade partner of Botswana and the third largest consumer of Botswana’s diamonds. China’s investment in Botswana, he said has dramatically increased. Chinese companies are active players in Botswana’s construction, service, and manufacturing industries.
He said that his government has provided economic assistance to Botswana’s development in the form of grants, interest free loans and concessional loans, which were used to finance the renovation and upgrading of 587 km of railway, the construction of more than 200 km of the Letlhakeng-Kang road, the construction of 717 residential houses and two primary schools. “Last December, the construction of Gaborone multi-purpose youth centre was finished and handed over to Botswana government. This year, Chinese will help finish the second phase of that centre. China is also willing to finance and build two more schools for Botswana,” he highlighted.
He further said that since 1981, China has sent 373 medical experts to Botswana and treated more than 2 million Botswana patients. In 2009, he noted that the University of Botswana and China’s Shanghai Normal University jointly established Confucius Institute at UB. “And each year from 2012, China will provide 62 scholarships for Batswana students,” he noted. For his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Phandu Skelemani emphasised that both countries have worked so well together over the years. He also said that having visited five provinces in China, he had witnessed first hand that the Chinese nationals were hard workers delivering their work with the same kind of dedication. “I know what the Chinese people can do I have seen their work,” he said. He also said that he was proud of some of the work that the Chinese people had done, which he said would help to keep the good name of China.
With regards to the financial assistance that China gave to Botswana, he said that he was hopeful that the money would be put to good use. “We will be accountable for every thebe. And you are welcome to ask questions if you are not happy about certain things. We must show our appreciation by delivering on what was agreed on,” said Skelemani.