Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China has lately become the theatre of extreme demonstrations and riots ostensibly guised as ‘pro-democracy’ protests.

But what really is the root cause of this situation that is increasingly threatening Hong Kong SAR’s social order and also playing into the narrative of certain western media and other external forces? Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Botswana Dr. Zhao Yanbo says the situation in Hong Kong SAR was triggered by a criminal case. It’s said that in February last year, a Hong Kong SAR resident fled back to Hong Kong SAR after killing his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan, China. Since there is no mutual arrangement for legal assistance or extradition arrangement between Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan, the suspected murderer cannot be sent to face trial in Taiwan.

The envoy explains that in order to fix the loopholes of Hong Kong SAR’s rule of law, the Hong Kong SAR Government proposed to amend its Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance. The Hong Kong SAR Government submitted the draft application to Hong Kong SAR’s Legislative Council in February 2019 and solicited opinions from all walks of society. It is hoped that the proposed amendments will allow Hong Kong SAR to surrender fugitive offenders to jurisdictions with which it does not currently have extradition arrangements on a case-by-case basis, such as with Mainland China, Macao SAR and Taiwan. Further, the amendments would fill the existing loopholes in the legal system, help crack down on crimes and demonstrate fairness and justice.

According to the envoy, this is a “necessary move” to improve the rule of law in Hong Kong SAR and should “not cause any controversy”.  However, Dr. Yambo laments that this “legitimate” act was “distorted” by the opposition and some foreign forces. They used the confusion and doubts of some Hong Kong SAR citizens who are not aware of the truth, spread rumours and created panic in society and triggered large-scale demonstrations. In order to restore social stability, the Hong Kong SAR Government has decided to suspend the amendments. But the opposition and radical forces in Hong Kong SAR did not stop instead according to Ambassador Yanbo they deliberately incited violence under the cover of “opposing amendments to the ordinances”. They illegally stormed Hong Kong SAR’s Legislative Council and the Liaison Office of the Chinese Central Government, blatantly insulted the Chinese national flag and emblem and the Hong Kong SAR emblem.

They organised massive demonstrations to maliciously block roads, subways and airports to paralyse public traffic, beat visitors and journalists, and assault the police officers even with lethal weapons. The envoy explains that the continuous worsening of the situation of Hong Kong SAR has clearly indicated that the demonstration originated by the issues related to the two Ordinances is moving to a “Hong Kong version of a Colour Revolution” under the intervention of external forces. He says that some of the street fights are changing directions to intentional, premeditated and organised criminal cases which severely threaten the Hong Kong SAR’s public security and challenge the bottom line of the principle of “one country, two systems”. Therefore, ending violence and restoring order is the most important and most urgent task of the Hong Kong SAR Government presently as well as the strongest call of most Hong Kong SAR citizens, says Dr. Yanbo.

Over the past 22 years since Hong Kong SAR’s return to China, the Central Government of China has remained committed to the policies of “one country, two systems”, “the people of Hong Kong SAR governing Hong Kong SAR” and a high degree of autonomy in the Hong Kong SAR, in strict accordance with the Chinese Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR. Dr. Yanbo says that Hong Kong SAR has been one of the world’s freest economies for the last 22 years with a stable growth of the GDP. For example, in 2018, Hong Kong SAR’s GDP reached 360 billion US dollars, which is more than two times of that in 1996. Hong Kong SAR has been ranked 16th in the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index in 2018, much higher than its 60th position in 1996. However, Dr Yanbo fears that the recent violent actions happening in Hong Kong SAR have already brought negative impact on Hong Kong SAR’s prosperity.

According to the statistics, in July this year, on a year-to-year basis, retail sales in Hong Kong SAR decreased by 11.4 percent, exports fell by 5.7 percent, and the unemployment rate increased by 2.9 percent. Hong Kong SAR’s tourism, retail, catering, transportation and other industries are weathering severe impact because of the violent actions. Tens of thousands of Hong Kong SAR citizens’ livelihoods are facing significant challenges. Dr. Yanbo says that all of these positive and negative factors clearly demonstrate that the “one country, two systems” is the best institutional arrangement for maintaining Hong Kong SAR’s long-term prosperity and stability.

But that said he emphasises that the principle of “one country, two systems” is an integral concept. “One country”, he says, is the fundamental precondition of “two systems”. Discussing “two systems” while putting aside “one country” is a challenge to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and will certainly also harm the fundamental interests of the Hong Kong SAR. Dr Yanbo insists that the rule of law is a core value that Hong Kong SAR people take pride in. It is the foundation for Hong Kong SAR’s sound business environment as well as the cornerstone of its prosperity and stability.  Under the rule of law, all laws must be observed and all offenders must be held accountable, he contends. It is impossible, he adds, for any country to accept democracy and freedom unbounded by law.

“Conniving violence is encouraging the violation of law and undermining the rule of law”.  Therefore, in order to stop the violent actions as well as to correspond to Hong Kong SAR people’s call for ending violence and restoring order, the Government of Hong Kong SAR, under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, has recently put in place the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation to ban the use of facial covering in public rallies which may prevent the Hong Kong SAR police from identifying the demonstrators.
Dr Yanbo says that similar regulations already exist in many countries. Putting in place the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation does not prevent Hong Kong SAR citizens from fulfilling their rights and freedom including the freedom of assembly.

“It is actually a way of protection for citizens in peaceful assembly and procession”. Currently, ending violence, restoring order and safeguarding prosperity is the appeal of the vast majority of Hong Kong SAR people and the most urgent task facing the Hong Kong SAR. Chinese Envoy unravels root cause of Hong Kong’s riots and protests

Dr Yanbo says that the central Government of China will continue to “unswervingly implement” the one country, two systems policy, fully support the Hong Kong SAR executive-led governance and the Hong Kong SAR communities in dealing with difficulties and challenges, and will never allow any external forces to intervene in Hong Kong SAR affairs, so as to protect the rule of law, restore social order in a timely manner and pave the way for a brighter future for Hong Kong SAR.

Published in News

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China has lately become the theatre of extreme demonstrations and riots ostensibly guised as ‘pro-democracy’ protests.

But what really is the root cause of this situation that is increasingly threatening Hong Kong SAR’s social order and also playing into the narrative of certain western media and other external forces? Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Botswana Dr. Zhao Yanbo says the situation in Hong Kong SAR was triggered by a criminal case. It’s said that in February last year, a Hong Kong SAR resident fled back to Hong Kong SAR after killing his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan, China. Since there is no mutual arrangement for legal assistance or extradition arrangement between Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan, the suspected murderer cannot be sent to face trial in Taiwan.

The envoy explains that in order to fix the loopholes of Hong Kong SAR’s rule of law, the Hong Kong SAR Government proposed to amend its Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance. The Hong Kong SAR Government submitted the draft application to Hong Kong SAR’s Legislative Council in February 2019 and solicited opinions from all walks of society. It is hoped that the proposed amendments will allow Hong Kong SAR to surrender fugitive offenders to jurisdictions with which it does not currently have extradition arrangements on a case-by-case basis, such as with Mainland China, Macao SAR and Taiwan. Further, the amendments would fill the existing loopholes in the legal system, help crack down on crimes and demonstrate fairness and justice.

According to the envoy, this is a “necessary move” to improve the rule of law in Hong Kong SAR and should “not cause any controversy”.  However, Dr. Yambo laments that this “legitimate” act was “distorted” by the opposition and some foreign forces. They used the confusion and doubts of some Hong Kong SAR citizens who are not aware of the truth, spread rumours and created panic in society and triggered large-scale demonstrations. In order to restore social stability, the Hong Kong SAR Government has decided to suspend the amendments. But the opposition and radical forces in Hong Kong SAR did not stop instead according to Ambassador Yanbo they deliberately incited violence under the cover of “opposing amendments to the ordinances”. They illegally stormed Hong Kong SAR’s Legislative Council and the Liaison Office of the Chinese Central Government, blatantly insulted the Chinese national flag and emblem and the Hong Kong SAR emblem.

They organised massive demonstrations to maliciously block roads, subways and airports to paralyse public traffic, beat visitors and journalists, and assault the police officers even with lethal weapons. The envoy explains that the continuous worsening of the situation of Hong Kong SAR has clearly indicated that the demonstration originated by the issues related to the two Ordinances is moving to a “Hong Kong version of a Colour Revolution” under the intervention of external forces. He says that some of the street fights are changing directions to intentional, premeditated and organised criminal cases which severely threaten the Hong Kong SAR’s public security and challenge the bottom line of the principle of “one country, two systems”. Therefore, ending violence and restoring order is the most important and most urgent task of the Hong Kong SAR Government presently as well as the strongest call of most Hong Kong SAR citizens, says Dr. Yanbo.

Over the past 22 years since Hong Kong SAR’s return to China, the Central Government of China has remained committed to the policies of “one country, two systems”, “the people of Hong Kong SAR governing Hong Kong SAR” and a high degree of autonomy in the Hong Kong SAR, in strict accordance with the Chinese Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR. Dr. Yanbo says that Hong Kong SAR has been one of the world’s freest economies for the last 22 years with a stable growth of the GDP. For example, in 2018, Hong Kong SAR’s GDP reached 360 billion US dollars, which is more than two times of that in 1996. Hong Kong SAR has been ranked 16th in the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index in 2018, much higher than its 60th position in 1996. However, Dr Yanbo fears that the recent violent actions happening in Hong Kong SAR have already brought negative impact on Hong Kong SAR’s prosperity.

According to the statistics, in July this year, on a year-to-year basis, retail sales in Hong Kong SAR decreased by 11.4 percent, exports fell by 5.7 percent, and the unemployment rate increased by 2.9 percent. Hong Kong SAR’s tourism, retail, catering, transportation and other industries are weathering severe impact because of the violent actions. Tens of thousands of Hong Kong SAR citizens’ livelihoods are facing significant challenges. Dr. Yanbo says that all of these positive and negative factors clearly demonstrate that the “one country, two systems” is the best institutional arrangement for maintaining Hong Kong SAR’s long-term prosperity and stability.

But that said he emphasises that the principle of “one country, two systems” is an integral concept. “One country”, he says, is the fundamental precondition of “two systems”. Discussing “two systems” while putting aside “one country” is a challenge to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and will certainly also harm the fundamental interests of the Hong Kong SAR. Dr Yanbo insists that the rule of law is a core value that Hong Kong SAR people take pride in. It is the foundation for Hong Kong SAR’s sound business environment as well as the cornerstone of its prosperity and stability.  Under the rule of law, all laws must be observed and all offenders must be held accountable, he contends. It is impossible, he adds, for any country to accept democracy and freedom unbounded by law.

“Conniving violence is encouraging the violation of law and undermining the rule of law”.  Therefore, in order to stop the violent actions as well as to correspond to Hong Kong SAR people’s call for ending violence and restoring order, the Government of Hong Kong SAR, under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, has recently put in place the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation to ban the use of facial covering in public rallies which may prevent the Hong Kong SAR police from identifying the demonstrators.
Dr Yanbo says that similar regulations already exist in many countries. Putting in place the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation does not prevent Hong Kong SAR citizens from fulfilling their rights and freedom including the freedom of assembly.

“It is actually a way of protection for citizens in peaceful assembly and procession”. Currently, ending violence, restoring order and safeguarding prosperity is the appeal of the vast majority of Hong Kong SAR people and the most urgent task facing the Hong Kong SAR. Chinese Envoy unravels root cause of Hong Kong’s riots and protests

Dr Yanbo says that the central Government of China will continue to “unswervingly implement” the one country, two systems policy, fully support the Hong Kong SAR executive-led governance and the Hong Kong SAR communities in dealing with difficulties and challenges, and will never allow any external forces to intervene in Hong Kong SAR affairs, so as to protect the rule of law, restore social order in a timely manner and pave the way for a brighter future for Hong Kong SAR.

Published in News

China will make all-out efforts to "do whatever the African brothers expect from us and whatever is in their interests", Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has promised.

The world today faces major changes unseen in a century, and the most important change is that a large number of developing countries, including China and those in Africa, have been on the fast track of development, Wang said. China has stood firmly with its African brothers all along, Wang said during a meeting with the foreign ministers of Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa -- members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, and Niger and Tunisia, incoming members of the UN Security Council, on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly high-level events week.

Wang said reflecting Africa's appeals, addressing its concerns and safeguarding its interests are the central focus of China's work on the council as African countries are the most important and most trusted partners of China since the first day that China joined the council.

In the face of the new situation, China is ready to work with African countries at the Security Council to strengthen solidarity and coordination, and safeguard common interests, Wang said, adding that together the countries will make new and greater contributions to world peace and development.

Wang said important consensus was reached at the meeting as all parties are supportive of safeguarding multilateralism, strengthening the authority and role of the United Nations, upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and opposing unilateralism and bullying.

"We have all agreed to enhance mutual support and cooperation between China and Africa in UN and Security Council affairs, and safeguard the common interests of China, Africa and other developing countries," said Wang.

It is supported by all that African countries should solve African issues in the African way and the UN should provide financial support for independent peace operations in Africa, according to Wang.

He added that the concept of "cooperation for development and development for peace" is also supported by all, which will help African countries achieve independent and sustainable development.

Wang stressed that all parties at the meeting are firmly committed to safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries, and opposing any country creating obstacles for developing countries or depriving them of the right to development.

The foreign ministers of the African countries who attended the meeting extended congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

They said Africa-China relations are based on equality and mutual respect, and Africa and China have always been each other's most reliable partners.

Africa appreciates that China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has played an important and positive role in African affairs, effectively promoted the fair and reasonable settlement of African issues, and made great contributions to safeguarding African interests and boosting peace and security in Africa, they noted.

At present, Africa faces the threat of terrorism and extremism, the ministers pointed out, adding that only by addressing security issues can Africa truly achieve long-term peaceful development. 

© (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

Published in News

Botswana and China must acknowledge that trade between them is very low despite the fact that in 2018 the trade volume increased 500 times. This was revealed by the Chinese Ambassador Dr Zhao Yanko at the 25th Botswana Northern Trade Fair in Francistown recently where he was the Guest of Honour.

“According to China’s statistics, within the SADC region, China-Botswana trade volume accounts for only 0.31 percent, which is very low and for Africa as a whole, China-Botswana trade volume accounts for only 0.14 percent which is even lower,” explained Dr Yanko.
The way he sees things, trade between the two countries should not only be promoted but its volume must be expanded together with the trade scale. “When we talk about trade we should also look at things from a broader perspective and deeper level. One of the most important things for trade is investment. “Practice has proven that trade and investment complement each other. Trade development can create favourable conditions for investment,” noted the envoy.

According to him, through trade, foreign enterprises can familiarise themselves with local laws and regulations, administrative procedures, market, industries, culture and the people and thus are able to establish a network for localised development and identify areas, products and services with good investment returns. “And these products and services will greatly strengthen the country’s export capability and performance and eventually improve bilateral trade as a result,” lectured Dr Yanko. He also noted that because China’s fast development relies on a path of industrialisation, today, 40 percent of China’s exported goods and two-thirds of China’s exported hi-tech products are manufactured by foreign enterprises based in China.

The Chinese Ambassador said that the Chinese fast development relies on innovation and entrepreneurship of her people.  He noted that Botswana has got many areas of strength that attract foreign investors since President Masisi assumed office.“Botswana government has adopted a number of policies with the aim of improving business environment and attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). “Now, Botswana has become more open and welcoming to the whole world,” said the Chinese Ambassador. 

The theme of the event was Innovate-Integrate-Industrialise. Giving his welcome remarks earlier, the president of Business Botswana, Gobuamang Keebine, had underscored the importance of the Northern Trade fair indicating that it had become a medium for doing business and promote products and services to a wider range of audience. “Our objective and that of our partners is to create and seize opportunities,” he continued adding that, in Botswana, the private sector’s role has not only been operational in terms of constructive dialogue and engagement.

He said they have been engaged by government in key developmental strategies and policy formation. Praising China for its state of industrialisation, he expressed hope that Botswana and Francistown would learn something from China’s lesson. “For Francistown to position itself as an investment hub, collectively, we must prioritise industrialisation as key to economic growth for Francistown and Botswana,” he advised adding that, for the development of Francistown to become a reality, Business Botswana and the other stakeholders must make sure that citizens participate in the economy.

“Only if we see ourselves as partners in business, if we support each other in our business and if we make a concerted effort as business people to take the lead in our economy and convert it into a private sector led economy and reduce dependence on government,” declared the Business Botswana leader.

Published in News
Wednesday, 12 September 2018 14:02

China offers Africa an open cheque

China is expected to launch eight major initiatives in close collaboration with African countries in the next three years and beyond. President of China, Xi Jinping said when officiating at the largest Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit meeting to date in Beijing China on Monday that to ensure that the eight initiatives are implemented, his country will extend US$60 billion of financing to Africa in the form of government assistance as well as investment and financing by financial institutions and companies.

This according to President Jinping, will include US$ 15 billion of grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans, US$20 billion of credit lines, the setting up of a US$10 billion special fund for development financing and a US$10 billion of investment in Africa in the next three years.

In addition, China will also exempt loans of Africa’s least developed countries, heavily indebted and poor countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing countries, due to mature by the end of 2018. Jinping’s optimism is fueled by positive results yielded from the 2015 FOCAC hosted on African soil in Johannesburg, South Africa, where 10 cooperation plans were adopted, and China has since fully implemented.

Since then, a large number of railway, highway, airport, port and other infrastructure projects as well as a number of economic and trade cooperation zones have been built or are under construction. “Our cooperation on peace and security, science, education, culture, health, poverty reduction, and people-to-people interactions has deepened,” President Jinping said.

According to the Chinese President, these 10 cooperation plans have brought huge benefits to the African and Chinese people, and have fully demonstrated the creativity, rallying power and efficiency of China-Africa cooperation and lifted China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership to new heights.

President Jinping added that to build an even closer China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, China is ready to launch eight major initiatives that are expected to catapult China-Africa relations to even greater heights.

CHINA PROMISES TO; Launch industrial promotion initiative
China has decided to open a China-Africa economic and trade expo in China, where Chinese companies will be encouraged to increase investment in Africa. The country will also build and upgrade a number of economic and trade cooperation zones in Africa. China promises to support Africa in achieving general food security by 2030, work with Africa to formulate and implement a programme of action to promote China-Africa cooperation on agricultural modernisation.

According to President Jinping, China will also implement 50 agricultural assistance programmes, provide RMB one billion of emergency humanitarian food assistance to African countries affected by natural disasters, send 500 senior agriculture experts to Africa, and train young researchers in afri-science and entrepreneurs in agri-business.

“We will continue to strengthen cooperation with African countries in local currency settlement and make good use of the China-Africa Development Fund, the China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation and the Special Loan for the Development of African SMEs.

Launch an infrastructure connectivity initiative
China has decided to jointly formulate a China-Africa infrastructure cooperation plan with the African Union (AU).“We will support Chinese companies in participating in Africa’s infrastructure development by way of investment-construction-operation or through other models, with focus on enhancing cooperation on energy, transport, information, telecommunications and cross-border water resources.

China also promises to work with Africa to undertake a number of key connectivity projects. “We will support African in developing the Single Africa Air Transport Market and open more direct flights between China and Africa.”China also pledges to facilitate bond issuance by African countries and their financial institutions in China. On the basis of following multilateral rules and procedures, China will support African countries in making better use of financing resources of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the New Development Bank and the Silk Road Fund.

Launch a trade facilitation initiative
China has decided to increase imports, particularly non-resource products from Africa. “We support African countries in participating in the China International Import Expo,” President Jinping said.According to Jinping, the least developed African countries participating in it will be exempted from paying exhibition stand fees.

China promises to continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation on market regulation and between customs authorities, and implement 50 trade facilitation programmes for Africa. “We hold on a regular basis, marketing activities for Chinese and African brand produdcts.”

China also supports the building of the African Continental Free Trade Area and will continue to hold free trade negotiations with interested African countries and regions. In addition, China will set up relevant mechanisms to promote e-commerce cooperation with Africa.

Launch a green development initiative
China has decided to undertake 50 projects for green development and ecological and environmental protection in Africa to expand exchanges and cooperation with Africa on climate change, ocean, desertification prevention and control, and wildlife protection.President Jinping said a China-Africa environmental corporation center will be set up and more policy dialogue and joint research on environmental issues will be conducted.

The China-Africa Green Envoys Programme will also be implemented to strengthen Africa’s human capacity for environmental management, pollution prevention and control, and green development. A China-Africa bamoboo center will also be established to help Africa make bamboo and rattan products. China will also work with Africa to raise public awareness of environmental protection.

Launch a capacity building initiative
China promises to share more of its development practices with Africa and support cooperation with Africa on economic and social development planning. According to President Jinping, 10 Luban Workshops will be set up in Africa to provide vocational training for young Africans. China will also support opening of a China-Africa innovation cooperation center to promote youth innovation and entrepreneurship. A tailor-made programme will also be carried out to train 1 000 high caliber Africans.

China will also provide Africa with 50 000 government scholarships and 50 000 training opportunities for seminars and workshops, and will invite 2 000 young Africans to visit China for exchanges.

Launch a health care initiative
China has decided to upgrade 50 medical and health aid programmes for Africa, particularly flagship projects such as the headquarters of the African Centre of Disease Control and Prevention and China-Africa Friendship Hospitals. According to President Jinping, exchanges and information cooperation will be carried out on public health. Cooperation programmes will be launched on the prevention and control of emerging and reemerging communicable diseases, schistosomiasis, HIV/AIDS and malaria.

China is also expected to train more medical specialists for Africa and continue to send medical teams that better meet Africa’s needs. More mobile medical services will be provided to patients for the treatment of cataract, heart disease and dental defects. Targeted health care services will also be provided to women and children of vulnerable groups in Africa.

Launch a people-to-people exchange initiative
China has decided to establish an institute of African studies to enhance exchanges with Africa on civilisation. The China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Plan will be upgraded. Fifty joint cultural, sports and tourism events will be organized. China also welcomes Africa’s participation in the Silk Road International League of Theaters, the Silk Road International Museum Alliance and the Network of Silk Road Art Festivals.

A China-Africa media cooperation network will be established. More African culture centers will be opened in China and more Chinese cultural centers in Africa. “Qualified African educational institutes are welcome to host Confucius Institutes. More African countries are welcome to become destinations for Chinese tour groups.” 


Launch a peace and security initiativeChina has decided to set up a China-Africa peace and security fund to boost cooperation on peace, security, peacekeeping and law and order. China promises to continue to provide military aid to the AU, and will support countries in the Sahel region and those bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Guinea in upholding security and combating terrorism in their regions.

President Jinping said a China-Africa peace and security forum would be established as a platform for conducting more exchanges in this area. Fifty security assistance programmes will be launched to advance China-Africa cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, and in areas of law and order, UN peacekeeping missions, fighting piracy and combating terrorism.

Published in News

In a no holds barred interviw this week with the Botswana Guardian President Ian Khama reveals for the first time details of how China engaged in intimidation in its efforts to block the Dalai Lama’s visit to Botswana. Khama wished the Dalai Lama a “speedy recovery” from the exhaustion he suffers, after which the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader is “welcome to come and visit Botswana.”

President Ian Khama wishes the Dalai Lama a “speedy recovery” from the exhaustion he suffers, after which the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader is “welcome to come and visit Botswana.”

Khama was speaking to Botswana Guardian in an exclusive interview following weeks of claims and counterclaims over the controversial private visit of The Dalai Lama to Botswana at the invitation of American-based Mind & Life Institute, which culminated into an ugly diplomatic row between China and Botswana.

He was expected to be the keynote speaker at a dialogue on ‘botho’ and spirituality facilitated by the institute this week. However, the trip was cancelled at the eleventh hour on the advice of doctors that the 82 year old should not travel long distances. 

“So we assume he will make a speedy recovery and once he has recovered, he is of course welcome to come and visit Botswana,” Khama said. 

Botswana was put under tremendous pressure not to allow the Dalai Lama to visit, but the land locked Southern African middle income country would not budge.

 In an exclusive interview with the Botswana Guardian, President Lieutenant General Dr Ian Khama revealed why his government was willing to extend hospitality to the Tibetan spiritual leader. 

“We allowed him because the Dalai Lama has not done our country any harm and China’s enemies are not Botswana’s enemies,” he said.  

Khama said this week in his office, “we stood our ground because Dalai Lama has not done Botswana any harm. We have numerous applications from that part of the world for people wanting to come to Botswana to visit for one reason or the other, and in his case, we have absolutely no reason to deny him a visa to come and visit Botswana to attend and preside over a conference which actually goes along with our principles re le Batswana of “Botho”.“So to try to spread that message to as many people around the world as we could through a conference like that we have of course supported so that is why we allowed him and others to attend, and like I said he had done us no harm and we have no reason not to allow him to come to Botswana”.Commenting on the fact that China is opposed to the Dalai Lama visiting any country and that does not exclude Botswana, Khama said that China’s enemies are not Botswana’s enemies.  

“Yes China spoke to us, they spoke to anybody under the sun to try to undermine this government, undermine the Cabinet. They were using time to get to Ministers, Members of Parliament, and my own relatives, everybody you can think of to try and prevent the Dalai Lama coming here. 

“They even invited a group of Batswana to go to China to try to reinforce that, hoping that when they came back here they would write stories or ask questions in Parliament about why the Dalai Lama is coming here, things that they would not allow in their own country,” he said.

Khama took a potshot at the Chinese government saying, “It is ironic that in China where you do not have the freedom of the Press, they would then take advantage and acknowledge that actually we are a free and open society where the Press is able to operate to use them against us in trying to find reasons to condemn.  “So yes, they (Chinese) engaged in intimidation, they told me, and they told other people things like the Ambassador may be recalled, it would damage relations between Botswana and China, that they would as China engage other African states to isolate Botswana. You can imagine that as far as we are concerned we are not amused by such threats, nor are we going to be intimidated or moved off our path”. 

The president drew similarities in the current situation to what applied during the Apartheid era. “You will remember many years ago during the days of Apartheid South Africa when we allowed ANC, SWAPO, Frelimo cadres and the liberation movements from Zimbabwe to come into Botswana, we would be threatened by Apartheid South Africa that if we allow those people to come in or if we did not hand them over they would carry military action and economic blockades. 

“They went over for several years those threats, and they carried them out if you would remember, they raided us, they blockaded us but we stood firm as Botswana in principle that no we are not going to allow ourselves to be bullied, intimidated and threatened, we would stick to our principles and allow those people to come here. So similarly, we were not a Bantustan of South Africa to do their bidding nor are we a colony of China. We are an independent sovereign country we can allow whowever to come in. Whoever has problems with China does not mean to say we have problems with them either”. 

And Khama told BG News that Ambassador Zhao Wanbo came to him and said really surprising things. “For example initially he was trying to give the history of our relationship and then he would go on to say how they were keen to engage with us with our development agenda; how he has spoken to the Chinese business community resident in Botswana that Botswana is not like other African countries, here we do not tolerate corruption, we got labour laws and they must abide by. 

“That surprised me because it seems that they were singling us out that they sort of have an arrangement  whereby and, or an idea that if you are in an African country you can engage in corruption and violate laws, but here in Botswana it is not tolerated. I just found that unacceptable. He talked about how it would damage the relations; he was the one who told me that his government may recall him and so on and so forth.  Khama revealed to this public that in his response he asked the Chinese Ambassador “if any country that allows Dalai Lama in is assumed to be supportive of Tibetan  Independence? I looked to him in the face and I said to him, I am telling you  as the President of Botswana, the Dalai Lama coming here has nothing to do with Tibet. If you want to come up with that story, that is up to you. But do not impose that conclusion on why we are allowing him to come to Botswana because it is not true”.

 But still that was not enough. Khama said the Chinese continued “undermining us in the underhand way in trying to get him (Dalai Lama) not to come. 

But as you can see, we decided despite the fact that we would continue he would go ahead. It is a pity and disappointing that he has not been able to come because we were informed that he has been advised by his doctors not to travel long distances right now”.

Khama not worried by China threats

 is a man not to be intimidated. He is not worried about China’s threats. Asked on the implication of his position to this country, Khama stood his ground. “Like I said during the times of Apartheid South Africa, we were pretty much surely dependent on Apartheid South Africa in those days when it came to trade. But, then the thing is, if you allow yourself to be bullied and intimidated by bigger powers to do what they want us to do, then we are not an independent and sovereign country that has a principle. 

“If  that is how, they( China) are going to conduct their relations through gunpoint diplomacy, then we just have to say, are we now surrendering our sovereignty  to whoever can come along and say Botswana do this, do that or else we will take  this kind of action, where will we be? 

“So, what we have fought for for 50 years, what we were proud of for 50 years, we have been independent, we are not going to abandon  that. So I think I am very strong and firm about that one. And in any way, the way we are going about diversifying our economy from time to time, even recently when we were in a recession, when we saw the commodity price downturn, there was a couple of times when we did not sell a single diamond to anybody whether it is China, USA or anybody, we had two very bad months. But we survived, so if they want to take those actions against us, but you know at the end of the day we cannot do to China what they can do to us, but there are things we can do”.  

Khama declined to name the things we can do saying, “I would rather not state that, but I would say we are waiting and watching to see what they will do and then we will respond”. 

However Khama thinks that now that the Dalai Lama is no longer coming, “they will probably tone down, but like I said, it is possible that he will still come because for now, it is because of his health and as soon as he has recovered it is likely that he could and I am saying he will be welcomed to Botswana”.

Batswana critical of Dalai Lama visit

Asked about his take on the fact that some Batswana were critical of the Dalai Lama’s visit and what would little Botswana do if China was to act, Khama said, “it is the same as what would have happened during the days of South Africa, there were people who had those concerns as well. Like I say we have to decide whether we are a colony of China or we are an independent Botswana”. About his relationship with the Chinese Ambassador, the President has not really had much dealings with the Chinese President, but stated that the Chinese Ambassador is a very pleasant person. 

“I have met him a couple of times, I sometimes wish he had been here earlier because maybe we would not be where we are today. But I just want to indicate to you that in all the years that I have been in government, no single Chinese Ambassador has ever brought to my attention the issue of Dalai Lama, they would talk of Taiwan as it affects the One China Policy.   “The Dalai Lama never came up, but even if they brought it up, it would have not made any difference, because like I said the decision was based on principle and not based on whether China likes it or not”. 

 

Published in News
Thursday, 17 August 2017 10:36

Khama blasts China

China engaged in intimidation, they told me things like the Ambassador may be recalled, it would damage relations between Botswana and China, that they would as China engage other African states to isolate Botswana”

The Dalai Lama is welcome to visit Botswana at any time...

President Ian Khama wishes the Dalai Lama a “speedy recovery” from the exhaustion he suffers, after which the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader is “welcome to come and visit Botswana.”

Khama was speaking to Botswana Guardian in an exclusive interview following weeks of claims and counterclaims over the controversial private visit of The Dalai Lama to Botswana at the invitation of American-based Mind & Life Institute, which culminated into an ugly diplomatic row between China and Botswana.

He was expected to be the keynote speaker at a dialogue on ‘botho’ and spirituality facilitated by the institute this week. However, the trip was cancelled at the eleventh hour on the advice of doctors that the 82 year old should not travel long distances. 

“So we assume he will make a speedy recovery and once he has recovered, he is of course welcome to come and visit Botswana,” Khama said. 

Botswana was put under tremendous pressure not to allow the Dalai Lama to visit, but the land locked Southern African middle income country would not budge.

 In an exclusive interview with the Botswana Guardian, President Lieutenant General Dr Ian Khama revealed why his government was willing to extend hospitality to the Tibetan spiritual leader. 

FULL STORY ON THE LATEST EDITION

Published in News
Wednesday, 09 August 2017 10:10

A fascinating trip to Tibet and Forbidden City

Indeed, difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations. The road from Nyingchi to Lulang town in Tibet, China is a breathtaking one; it takes you up mountains and down valleys.

Twisting between big mountains, the road may not be ideal for the fainthearted but it offers serene views of the huge mountains enveloped by clouds and fog, valleys and the thick forest covering the area. 

The road takes you to the Lulang International Tourist Town which is a sight to behold in its own right. Local journalists and academics who visited China recently were introduced to this tourist attraction town rightly named, “a place that will make you forget your home” by the locals. 

Lulang means “Loong King Valley” in Tibetan language, or “a place that will make you forget your home”. The town offers nothing but natural scenery. Forest-clad mountains, flowers and lakes; the place looks like it has been ripped right from a fairy tale book. 

Visitors to the area are also treated to traditional Tibetan dance and song. Unfortunately the place for now is out of bounds for international tourists. According to officials of the Nyingchi town, which Lulang falls under needs proper road networks and the fact that not many planes land at the Nyingchi Milin Airport, makes it difficult for international tourists to travel to Lulang. The airport, which sits in a winding valley, is one of the difficult airports to land an aircraft and according to officials, currently only former army officers are able to fly to Nyingchi Airport. The municipal government is currently planning to build a tricky railway line that will link Nyingchi with Lulang. 

Lulang currently attracts close to half a million local tourists a month. However, Lulang town is not the only place which caught the eye. In Beijing, the capital of China everything you have seen in most of the Jackie Chan movies rolls before your eyes. From the Jackie Chan and other Chinese movies I have always been fascinated by the Forbidden City. 

The place sounded so mysterious. And it sounded and even looked more mysterious on my visit there. Forbidden City, now a museum, lies at the city centre of Beijing. It once served as the imperial palace for 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 - 1911) and during those times people were not allowed to visit the palace unless given such permission hence the name Forbidden City. 

The museum attracts huge crowds of visitors a day and has an amazing history. Our tour guide was telling us that close to 10 000 people were living at the palace at the time with the Emperor. The latter, a married man, was allowed to live with any number of concubines he wished to live with at the palace. The wife though staying at the palace did not stay in the same room or house with the Emperor but only visited the Emperor’s bedroom when requested. 

All the male workers at the Palace were castrated before being offered any job. The Emperor could not risk one of his many concubines sleeping with a worker. And just like I saw in the movies, the Emperor’s Palace has a big empty space where the Emperor’s guards would assemble and train..

Published in Style
Wednesday, 19 July 2017 14:38

Botswana angers China

The long-standing 42-year relationship between Botswana and China is on the brink of collapse as the former is now willing to extend “normal courtesies” reserved for visiting dignitaries during the Dalai Lama’s visit to Botswana. Beijing is talking tough and is in an uncompromising mood regarding Tibetan’s exiled spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s planned visit to Botswana, saying whoever allows the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit then that country is closing relations with China. 

Addressing visiting journalists and academics from Botswana last week in Beijing, Songtian Lin, Director General of the Department of African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said he was very worried about the deteriorating relations between Botswana and China. “I have a lot of worries,” he said in a high-pitched voice, saying the relations have gone down. “I fight day and night for countries that stand with us,” he said. Lin was referring to the 41 African countries that currently enjoy investment and financing cooperation with China. 384 cooperative projects valued at US$450 billion are currently being undertaken in Africa. The projects have paid US$450 million taxes to these African countries and created 87 000 job opportunities.  This is what Botswana is expected to lose out if it allows the Dalai Lama to cross into its borders. 

“I am fully confident that your president will not extend a hand to the Dalai Lama,” said Lin. He was wrong. This week Wednesday President Ian Khama’s administration released a statement that the Government of the Republic of Botswana will be extending the normal “courtesies” for visiting dignitaries, for which the Chief of Protocol is responsible. “Furthermore, His Excellency will meet the Dalai Lama when he is in Botswana,” reads part of the statement. Initially Gaborone had indicated that it has nothing to do with the Dalai Lama visit as his visit is private and no courtesies would be extended to him. Government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay on Wednesday refused to comment on the latest government’s stand.

“I would not like to comment on that at the moment,” he said. He however confirmed that the statement came from the Office of the President. Dalai Lama will visit Botswana in August to participate as honourary guest during a live public conference hosted by the Mind & Life Institute. The three-day conference takes place at the new Indoor Sports Centre on the campus of the University of Botswana in Gaborone, 17 – 19 August. According to a press release this is his only planned destination in Africa.South Africa on three occasions denied the Dalai Lama a visa for fear of angering China.

The Dalai Lama wants greater autonomy for Tibet, an objective China views as separatism and a violation of the country’s One China policy, which Botswana supports. “Tibet related issues concern China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and touch upon China’s core interests and the dignity of the 1.3 billion Chinese.

There is no room for China to compromise on these issues,” said Lin adding that no country in the world has opened its airports for the Dalai Lama.“We never force anyone in the continent to accept our policy but what will the Dalai Lama visit benefit your people? You have the right to choose, to close or to open (relations).” Lin warned that whatever China’s friends do should not “touch our bottom line.”

“You do anything against our interest is not acceptable, I am not rich but I am not stupid.” 

Lin said if the Dalai Lama wants to come back to Tibet a temple is waiting for him. “If you want relations with China to last, then you have to recognise the One China policy, otherwise you are touching our bottom line,” said Lin. 

Meanwhile, this week the Office of the President said President Khama’s attendance at the conference, for the Official opening or otherwise, will be determined by his schedule.

 

Published in News

SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London) Research Associate and International Relations academic Chedza Mogae has criticised Botswana for allowing the Dalai Lama to visit the country. 

Chedza - the daughter of Botswana’s second president Festus Mogae - was among journalists and think tanks invited by the Chinese government on a trip to China last week. 

She said of the impending visit of the Dalai Lama to Botswana: “Unfortunately Botswana does not have a codified foreign policy and its foreign affairs ministry operates using generalists as opposed to specialists, which is what led to confusion with regard to the One China Policy, which is in effect, the One China Principle formalised.” 

She said the policy is not just about Taiwan, it is about any move in support of the separation of any part of China; “a policy we agreed to support and respect at the onset of diplomatic relations (between China and Botswana”. She noted that, further, China’s Africa policy outlines how in turn, the Chinese government does not and will not involve itself in such issues on the African continent. 

“The people and government of China accept that the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader, what they don’t accept is that he’s the political leader of an independent Tibet. And from my interactions with Tibetans young and old, they feel the same way. They pay very little or no heed to the so-called Tibetan Government in Exile of which the Dalai Lama is the leader.”

Mogae said President Ian Khama is not an international scholar and he feels “he can say what he wants.” She praised former presidents, Sir Seretse Khama and Sir Ketumile Masire, saying Khama was very intelligent with foreign policy issues while Masire was an educator.

“These people were nation builders. The educational level within our technocrats is wanting,” she said. 

Published in News
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