Zhao Yanbo vows to improve Sino-Botswana relations

Justice Kavahematui - BG reporter
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
Zhao Yanbo vows to improve Sino-Botswana relations

Botswana, a promising and growing economy on the African continent, and China, the largest developing economy in the world, have vowed to take their relations to a new high.

The two nations enjoy diplomatic relations cemented 41 years ago, which the newly- appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of The People’s Republic of China to Botswana Zhao Yanbo says need to be taken to a new high. Yanbo is an admirer of Botswana’s success story.  “I have come to realise that Botswana is a very unique country in Africa and has followed a development path suited to its national conditions,” he said Tuesday at an event marking his official assumption of office. China has a burgeoning economic presence in Africa and Botswana is no exception.

Fortune Magazine says that as the poster child for economic growth in recent decades, China has been increasingly keen to spread its wealth and influence around. Even though the country is suffering from a slowdown and is expected to achieve “only” a single-digit growth rate in the coming years, it remains one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Its success has been, in part, the result of it being a recipient of huge amounts of foreign direct investment.

As China gradually embraces the roles and responsibilities of the world’s biggest economy as well, it is increasingly reversing that flow of cash and is expected to soon surpass the U.S. as the largest investor in other countries, reports state. The amount of investments made by China abroad is estimated to be $531 billion in outward foreign direct investment, with 4 percent of it—$22 billion—going to investments in natural resource extraction, finance, infrastructure, power generation, textiles, and home appliances in Africa.

“That’s a small sum at first glance, but its economic impact to the region is both huge and far-reaching, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the biggest investments made in Nigeria, Sudan, South Africa, and Angola,” notes Fortune. In addition to investment projects, China has quickly become Africa’s largest trading partner, with trade volume of $166 billion in 2014. Reports indicate that this is likely to continue to increase and reach an estimated $1.7 trillion by 2030.

For Botswana, China is the third largest trade partner and the second largest consumer of Botswana diamonds. According to Yanbo, China’s investment to Botswana reached US$85 million, an increase of 92 percent compared to the previous year. “China attaches great importance to developing relations with Botswana and is ready to work with Botswana…We are willing to expand our cooperation in various fields,” said the envoy at the event which was attended by among others President Ian Khama’s members of Cabinet including Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.

Previously Botswana has stated that it views China as a strategic partner and that the country has a lot of potential opportunities that Botswana can exploit to drive her development agenda, such as, trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), and development assistance. “Botswana and China has a long history of friendship. China has supported Botswana in times of need in areas such as education and health,” said Venson-Moitoi at the same event.

Ambassador Yanbo explained that China has in fact sent 14 batches of Chinese medical teams to Botswana and has since treated almost the entire population of the country since Botswana-China relations started. “So far more than 400 health professionals have worked in Botswana and treated more than 2.2 million Botswana patients,” he said.

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