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Ambassador Sun Xianghua's Remarks at the Handover Ceremony of Food Aid from the Government of China to the Government of Lesotho
2018/04/26
 

Please allow me to start by paying my respects to H.M.King Letsie III, and

The Right Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Motsoahae Thomas Thabane,

Your Honorable Halebonoe Setsabi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations,

Your Honorable Temeki Tsolo, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office,

Mr. Lechoo Setenane, Principle Secretary of Cabinet,

Mr. Thabang Lekhela, Acting Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Distinguished guests,

Friends from the media

Ladies and gentlemen

 

Today we are gathered here to witness the handover of roughly 1330 metric tons of parboiled rice in 53 containers, donated by the Government of the People's Republic of China to the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho. This batch of food constitutes the second batch of food aid from China to Lesotho for the financial year of 2017/2018 with a total volume of RMB 20 million (roughly M38 million). As you may recall, the first shipment of the food aid was handed over in November last year from me on behalf of the Chinese Government to Honorable Minister Makgothi on behalf of the government of Lesotho.

 

Distinguished guests, there is an ancient saying in China which says that Food is the paramount necessity for the people. In Lesotho, you also have a somehow similar saying : Lela le lapileng ha le na tsebe. It's unfortunate that in recent years, Lesotho and some other African countries have been hit by severe droughts, which greatly affected the food security situation in these countries, especially the people who are unemployed or live in remote areas and survive on subsistence farming. In response to the requests of assistance from the government of Lesotho, the Chinese government decided to upgrade its urgent food assistance to the mountain kingdom. In 2016, when the food shortage was most serious, the government of China provided RMB 18 million worth of food aid to Lesotho. More than 400 thousand people have benefited from the urgent aid program.

 

Though we witnessed a relatively better rain season last year, the challenge of food insecurity still lingers in Lesotho. According to reports from the Food and Agriculture Organization, the number of food insecure people in Lesotho still stands at least 223,000. In response to this situation, the Chinese government decided to increase its food aid to Lesotho to RMB 20 million. We wish this assistance will help the Lesotho government and people overcome the current difficult situation.

 

At this juncture, I have to say that in the last couple of months, we saw an abnormal hailstorm in Quthing and serious floodings of several rivers including those in Mokhotlong, Thaba-tseka and Mohale's Hoek. The crops in those areas have sustained huge damages. With the winter drawing near, many people in those regions may face shortages of food due to these disasters. I sincerely wish the Disaster Management Authority will take all these factors into consideration while distributing the food aid. I also urge the DMA to continue to implement the food relief distribution in a timely and efficient way as it has been doing in the past years.

 

Distinguished guests, in recent years, due to the negative impact of climate change, we are experiencing increasingly extreme weather conditions across the world. Developing countries, due to their weak economic strength and mitigation capabilities, are suffering from more frequent natural disasters and economic losses. The Chinese government calls on the international community to join hands to tackle this common challenge to human kind and has adopted a series of measures to help mitigate the situation.

 

Firstly, China is a leading developing country to financially support the international climate change mitigation efforts. In 2015 at the UN General Assembly, H.E. President Xi Jinping announced that China will provide RMB 20 Billion to establish the China South-South Cooperation Fund for Climate Change, in order to support the developing countries in adapting to and fighting against climate change. At this moment, the Embassy of China in Lesotho is in discussion with the Lesotho government to explore how we can bring some of the benefits to Lesotho.

 

Secondly, at the International Cooperation Summit of the Belt and Road Initiative held in Beijing last year, H.E. President Xi announced that in the coming 3 years, China would provide RMB 2 billion worth of food aid to countries along the Belt and Road region. The food aid to Lesotho this year falls under this program.

 

Thirdly, China has acted resolutely to fight the climate change. China is the first developing country in the world to pledge unilateral reduction of green gas emissions. In the past 20 years, China's accumulated energy saving accounts for 58% of the world's total, and its renewable energy production capacity accounts for 24% of the world's total. China has become the biggest country in utilizing new and renewable energy, making a great contribution to the fight against climate change.

 

Fourthly, China will continue to push forward its cooperation in the field of agricultural modernization with African countries including Lesotho. Currently, we send 40 Basotho including some small-scale agricultural practitioners to China for agricultural training courses every year. We hope more Basotho will benefit from our experiences and technical knowhow in increasing their agricultural production. Meanwhile, we are also discussing with the Ministry of Development Planning of Lesotho about the feasibility of building a grain storage and trading centre in Lesotho, which will equip Lesotho with a food reserve facility and be better prepared for food relief requirements.

 

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, over the decades, China-Lesotho friendship and cooperation have withstood various tests and challenges. As a sincere friend and partner of Lesotho, the government and people of China will always stand shoulder by shoulder with our brotherly Basotho and the Lesotho government, to face whatever challenges on our way forward. It's my strong belief that with our joint efforts, we will push our cooperation in all the areas including food security to new high and bring more benefits to the Basotho people. I am also confident that China-Lesotho friendship and cooperation, which are based on similar historic experience and common development aspiration, will continue to become a fine example of partnerships among countries, regardless whether they are big or small, rich or poor, strong or weak.

 

Last but not least, I shall use this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, all the other relevant Ministries, and the Disaster Management Authority in the Prime Minister's Office for facilitating the handover of the food aid and for organizing today's event.

 

Thank you! Khotso, Pula, Nala!

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