May I start by paying my respect to His Majesty King Letsie III,
The Right Hon. Prime Minister Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili and all protocols observed,
Hon. Tšoeu Mokeretla, Minister of Public Works and Transport,
Hon. Likeleli Tampane, Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture,
Senior Government Officials ,
Friends from the News Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure and honour to attend the Hand-Over Ceremony of the Lesotho National Convention Center Renovation Project and on behalf of the Government the People's Republic of China, to hand over the completed Lesotho National Convention Center Renovation Project to the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho. First of all, please allow me to express my warm congratulations to the successful completion of the project! I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation and thanks to the Lesotho Government, especially Hon.Minister Mokeretla and Hon. Minister Tampane, who are present here today, for their strong support and good cooperation, and to the workers, technicians and relevant government officials of our two countries for their hard work and dedication, without which the success would not be possible!
Ever since the sod-turning ceremony of this Renovation Project commenced on March 20th, 2014, Chinese and Lesotho technical teams managed to overcome a lot of unexpected difficulties, finally achieved the expected goals set out in the contract, adding a brand new chapter into the cooperation and friendship between China and Lesotho.
As everyone knows, the National Convention Center is a China- aid Project built in 1998, which played an important role in promoting Lesotho cultural prosperity and enhancing international or multilateral exchanges in the past 18 years . Unfortunately, the center was not functioning well and closed down for a variety of reasons around 2012. In the same year, at the request of the Lesotho Government, the Chinese Government decided to implement the renovation project, in an effort to recover and upgrade the building and to show her charming beauty again.
The total construction area of this project covers around 6500㎡, with a contract price of 74.7 Million Chinese RMB Yuan, equal to about 150 million Malotis. The renovation includes the main lobby, 800-seat auditorium, 200-seat meeting room, 70-seat meeting room, multi-media meeting room, and partition meeting room and so on. The scope of renovation includes waterproofing of the roof, decoration of both inside and outside walls, replacement of AC system, water supply and drainage systems, installation of electrical equipment and necessary furniture, etc.
I believe that with completion of renovation, the center will be comprehensively rejuvenated, adding to the beauty of the Maseru City and becomes the best choice for holding meetings, seminars, rallies and performances etc. in Lesotho, enriching the political and cultural life of the Basotho people. It will also be a grand monument of the profound friendship between our two peoples.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a reliable friend and sincere partner of Africa, China always attaches great importance to promoting and strengthening friendly relations and cooperation with African countries. Just a month ago, the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, also known as FOCAC, was held successfully in Johannesburg, South Africa. Chinese President Xi Jinping, and more than 40 heads of state and government of African countries, including the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili, attended the summit.
During the Summit, a consensus was reached that the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership be upgraded to a comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership. President Xi put forward "five major pillars" and "ten cooperation plans" to construct the partnership. The "five major pillars" include political equality and mutual trust, win-win economic cooperation, mutually enriching cultural exchanges, mutual assistance in security, and solidarity and coordination in international affairs. The "ten cooperation plans" are on industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure development, financial cooperation, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction, public health, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security cooperation over the next three years. To ensure the successful implementation of the plans, China pledges 60 billion USD in funding support to Africa, which includes 5 billion USD of grant and interest-free loans, 35 billion USD of loans of preferential nature on more favorable terms and export credit line; an increase of 5 billion USD to the China-Africa Development Fund and the Special Loan for the Development of African SMEs respectively, etc..
The above-mentioned plans closely integrate development of China with that of Africa and aim to realize win-win cooperation and common development together. These cooperation plans that are more substantive, forceful and extensive than any trade and economic cooperation measures announced in the previous sessions of FOCAC, fully demonstrate China's strong support to Africa for its inclusive and sustainable economic and social development, and will surely bring China-Africa economic cooperation and trade onto a higher level, which will serve as strong underpinnings for China-Africa comprehensive strategic partnership. In the implementation of these plans, China will abide by the principles of "sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith" proposed by President Xi Jinping , and the principles of " four nos and three priorities", which are no political preconditions attached, no interference in other country's internal affairs, no demands against other people's will, no empty promises and priority to consider actual needs of Africa, priority to help improve the well-beings of African people, priority to support Africa to raise her self-independent development capacity, and take a balanced approach in upholding principles and pursuing interests. At same time, China will be focusing on helping African countries break the three bottlenecks that holding back African development, namely, inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel and funding shortage, focusing on the resolution of food, employment and health problems.
Soon after the summit, the Chinese Government takes into action immediately, and the Chinese Embassy in Lesotho has already carried out several rounds of discussion with relevant Ministries, programming the China funded Projects over the next few years, and it has come up with some initial results. I hope Lesotho Government can seize this good opportunity and take full advantage of using all kinds of financial resources for foreign assistance provided by China, including grant, interest-free loans, as well as the concessional loans, to promote the economic and social development, and to benefit the Basotho people to the greatest extent . Today's ceremony is the best example and vivid testimony of the mutual beneficial and win-win cooperation between China and Lesotho.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In recent years, China-Lesotho relation has maintained a sound momentum for development. We have achieved fruitful results of cooperation in various fields, and now we are still having nearly 10 on-going China-aid projects. In 2016, China will as always continue to work and coordinate closely with Lesotho , rigorously implement the "Ten Cooperation Plans" , explore new measures and new fields of cooperation, and help enhance the self-development capacity of Lesotho and increase the well-beings of the Basotho people through education and training cooperation, and technical transfer, taking the bilateral trade and economic cooperation to a new height.
Before the conclusion of my remarks, I wish to express my sincere and heartfelt gratitude again to Hon. Minister Tšoeu Mokeretla and his staff in the Ministry of Public Works & Transport for their good cooperation and assistance in making wonderful arrangements for this hand-over ceremony.
Finally, may our cooperation be fruitful and our friendship last forever!
Thank you all!