On 16 December, the Chinese Ambassador to the Kingdom of Lesotho H.E. Dr. Sun Xianghua received a live-broadcasting interview by Ultimate Radio on bilateral relations in its morning talks programme. Details of the interview are as follows:
Q: Ever since you came to Lesotho, how have Basotho received you?
A: Lesotho and Basotho people received me just like one of them, a Mosotho. I feel at home. Lovely country and lovely people!
Q: Do you know any one of the words of our language?
A: Yes. I am trying to learn it. It's a lovely language. For example, I can say now: "Bo-'me le bo-ntate, lumelang. Lebitso laka ke Sun Xianghua. Lebitso la hao ke mang? U pela joang? Kea leboha. Ke sebetsa embasing ea Chaena." I will keep on learning it.
Q: I know Lesotho enjoys good relationship with China ever since the resumption of diplomatic relations in 1994. It's now one of the major development partners of Lesotho. How do you describe your work since you arrived in Lesotho?
A: In short, I use three words to describe my work and life in Lesotho.
Firstly, Enjoyable. I feel so lucky to work in this country to serve the two peoples. I am working in an optimal and friendly environment. Our relations are based on our same historical experiences. Being developing countries, our relationship features equality, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. It's enjoyable especially working with the hospitable Basotho.
Secondly, Exciting. Since I came to Lesotho, barely one month passed without new progress achieved in our relations. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the independence of Lesotho. We are so glad and proud to be in Lesotho for this auspicious moment.
Thirdly, Fruitful. We have seen some concrete progresses and achievements. I feel so lucky and so glad to participate in this august cause.
Q: How would you comment on the current China-Lesotho relations?
A: In one sentence, I should say, our relations are at its best at this moment.
Political mutual trust is deepened and unwavering. The Chinese government firmly supports the Lesotho government's efforts in keeping social stability, improving its economy and upgrading people's livelihoods. On the eve of the 50th anniversary, President Xi Jinping sent a special representative to come to Lesotho to present his letter of congratulation to His Majesty the King. This showed the trust and friendship between our two countries.
Economic cooperation is close and rewarding. The new State House and the China-Lesotho Friendship School will be completed at the end of this month or early next month. These two new landmarks of our friendship will stand in Maseru, together with the National Convention Centre, the State Library and the Parliament Building. This year we have seen the experts from the China Exports and Imports Bank visiting Lesotho and last week a delegation from the Ministry of Commerce of China was in Lesotho studying some new projects. Last month, we have a delegation coming to Lesotho from the China Development Bank introducing their special loans to Africa' small and medium enterprises. And this year we also witnessed the handover of 2477 metric tons of par-boiled rice by Chinese government to Lesotho, which was a tremendous support to Lesotho government's efforts in fighting drought and food supply shortage.
In the field of trade, I must tell you that from January to September, the export volume of Lesotho to China has reached 16 million USD, a 15.2% increase compared to that of last year, a tremendous achievement
People-to-people and cultural exchanges are robust and increasing. China central television have a close cooperation with LTV. The CCTV News is broadcast every evening in Lesotho. It opens a new window for the Basotho to know China and the world.
At last, I want to add the Chinese community in Lesotho to the list. They have been creating jobs for Basotho people, generating incomes for the government. This year they are more actively engaged in charity works. They have organized a nationwide campaign to donate food and daily basics to more than 3200 vulnerable households. More Chinese businessmen are engaged in sponsoring poor children tuition fees, digging wells, and helping people with disabilities.
This year is a harvest year for China and Lesotho relations.
Q: China Usually sponsored students to study in China. Do we have some students who have been sponsored this year?
A: Absolutely. This year, 200 Basotho, mainly technicians and government officials in charge of economic and social development, went to China for training. Apart from that, we have seen 36 Basotho young people went to China under Chinese government scholarship to study for degrees. Moreover, 63 Basotho young people went to china bearing their own cost. It means that China has become a academic attraction to Basotho young people.
Q: China is one of the foreign guests invited to the 50th anniversary celebration. I know your embassy has done a lot to celebrate with Basotho. Could you tell us more?
A: This year we are as excited, happy and proud as Basotho people to celebrate the Golden Jubilee. We did whatever we can. The Chinese government sent an art troupe to perform two shows before 4 October, in which about 1000 people attended. With this troupe, we were creating an enjoyable and exciting atmosphere for the celebration. And we also held a Chinese movie festival. In the come years, we'll do more and better.
Q: There are quite a number of Chinese in Lesotho getting together with Basotho. Do you see any similarities between the cultures of China and Lesotho?
Some archaeologists and anthropologists from South Africa even said that we have hundreds of years of cultural exchanges between the Chinese and the Basotho people. The khoi-khoi language's pronunciation and intonation are very similar to that of the Chinese language. The Basotho hat is very similar to the hat of the Chinese farmers in the southern part. Some anthropologists said that 600 years ago, when the Chinese navigators arrived in Africa, the Basotho culture and the Chinese culture started to mingle with each other. For example, when you say "student" in Sesotho, you say "moithuti". In Chinese, we say "tudi". Almost the same.
And the national characters of Basotho and the Chinese are also similar. You respect elders, attach great importance to family, and care the kids, especially their educations. We also have the same value. Although we are far apart, we feel psychologically close to Basotho.
I don't think the cultural mixture and exchange has been enough. We should do more. Chines movies, Chinese music and Chinese arts should play their parts in the coming years.
Q: You mean when we start to learn Chinese language, we don't have to worry?
A: Language is the bridge of friendship. This year, we opened the first Confucius classroom in Lesotho, in Machabeng College exactly, which can host Basotho people who want to learn Chinese. Some people even go there in their spare time. It's quite easy. And some Chinese businessmen speak very good Sesotho. The language barrier is not that much.
Q: Could you please elaborate more on the technical team visiting Lesotho recently for aid programs.
A: 16 years ago, China and African countries established the Forum on China and Africa Cooperation. Since then, we have done a lot. In 2009, China became the biggest trade partner of Africa. We have become the biggest export market for Africa products. Last December, the FOCAC held the Johannesburg Summit at which President Xi announced that China would provide 60 billion USD for Africa development.
We cooperate with African countries in many fields under this background, including the team coming last week. They were here to study some of the proposals put to us by the Lesotho government, involving public health, water, energy and road construction. They obtained the statistics and went to the sites to get the first-hand information. And in several months, they will finish their report. I am confident there will be positive outcomes.
Q: You have talked a little bit about the bilateral trade and investment. What do you expect from Lesotho to attract more investment from China.
A: This is a very important question. Currently our trade relations are becoming close and investment is increasing. We have 10 million new investment in 2016, but It is not enough. Chinese investment in Africa is increasing rapidly, but in Lesotho it is still lagging behind. First of all, we should do more advertisement for Lesotho. Many people in China, including those big enterprises, know little about Lesotho. We should introduce in details about our policies toward the oversees direct investment of China, and tell them what they can expect in this country, about the laws of tax, of labor, of import and export. We have competitors in Africa such as South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. They are all attracting Chinese investment with preferential policies, so we should do more in Lesotho. I will work closely with the Lesotho government in this regard. The delegation from the Development Bank of China was one of the measures we took.
Q: What do you plan to further strengthen the bilateral ties between China and Lesotho?
A: I've been working in this country only for 7 months, but I do feel time flies. I do want to do my best to further strengthen our relations holistically. I will work on deepening political mutual trust, which is a foundation. Secondly, we should do more on projects, investment and trade. Thirdly, people-to-people and cultural exchanges are also important because they are the catalysts of our cooperation. Fourthly, I should make more personal friends, learn more about this country including Sesotho language, and hear what our Basotho friends want us to do.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for our Basotho friends.