(Sep. 28th, 2011, Maseru)
May I start in paying my respect to His Majesty King Letsie III,
And the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
Hon. Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Archibald Lesao Lehohla,
Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Mr. Mohlabi Tsekoa, and other Hon. Cabinet Ministers,
Your Excellencies Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations in Lesotho,
Bon-'me le bo-ntate, Dumela!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
When the beautiful season of spring returns back to Lesotho, with all trees turning green and flowers in full blossom, we are gathering here this evening to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, which falls on October 1st, 2011. First of all, please allow me, on behalf of my wife and my colleagues in the Chinese Embassy, to extend our warm welcome to you all, and our thanks and appreciation for your presence. I would like also to take this opportunity to extend my festival greetings and best wishes to my fellow countrymen here in Lesotho.
In 1949, after arduous struggle for decades, the Communist Party of China led the Chinese people in founding the People's Republic, which marked the realization of China's independence and liberation of its people and ushered in a new epoch in Chinese history. From then on, China, once a semi-feudal, semi-colonial, poor, weak and war-torn country, has embarked on the road of socialist construction and modernization, and won great achievements in all fields, raising the living standards of the Chinese people from below subsistence to overall moderate prosperity.
In the past six decades and more, and particularly since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policies in 1978, China has successfully achieved two historic transformations: a transformation from a highly-centralized planned economy to a dynamic socialist market economy, from a closed and semi-closed country to a fully open one, and found a path of development conforming to China's reality and the trend of the times, the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, which has enhanced its overall national strength and turned it into the world's second largest economy, top exporter and second largest importer. In 2010, China's total economic output reached US$5.88 trillion, over 16 times that of 1978. It's total import and export volume grew from US$20.6 billion in 1978 to US$2.974 trillion. Since its entry into the WTO in 2001, China has imported goods worth nearly US$750 billion every year, and created over 14 million jobs for the world. China has contributed over 10% to world economic growth every year in recent years, making major contribution to world prosperity and stability.
Though as it is, China remains a developing country with tremendous difficulties and challenges caused by its huge population, limited resources and imbalanced development between its rural and urban areas, extra. According to statistics released in April, China's GDP per capita ranks 95th in the world, equal about 1/10 of that of the European Countries or 1/13 of that of United Sates, and over 100 million people in China are still living under poverty line. There is still a long way to go before China can attain its modernization.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
2011 is the first year of China's implementation of the 12th National Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development, which has outlined a path of scientific development, accelerating the change of economic development pattern and structural adjustment, further improving people's well-being and with more attention to deepening the reform and opening up. In short, China would be heading for a more sustainable development, featuring "a more balanced economy, a happier society, greener environment and more innovative technology".
Under such a blueprint, China's economic growth maintained a good momentum this year. The GDP reached 20,446 billion RMB, or around US$ 3,200 billion, in the first half of the year, an increase of 9.6% compared with the same period last year. The total import volume reached US$829.37 billion, an increase of 27.6% year-on-year, showing that China continues to provide opportunities of economic development and recovery for other countries, and that her economic growth maintains an important engine for the world economic recovery.
Not long ago, China issued a white paper on peaceful development, in which China declared solemnly again to the world that peaceful development is a strategic choice made by the Chinese Government and people to realize modernization. China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development, which is a path of scientific, independent, open, peaceful, cooperative and common development.
Along this way, moreover, China is ready to share the experiences and fruits of development with other countries, especially developing countries, so as to achieve win-win progress and common development. China will develop itself through upholding world peace and contribute to world peace through its own development, and strive to build a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity and works with other countries in pursuing this goal.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The founding of the People's Republic of China has laid a strong foundation for durable bonds of brotherhood and solidarity between China and Africa, which have today developed into a new type of strategic partnership. The two sides have undertaken to strengthen their relations in political, economic and cultural spheres, based on equality and mutual trust. China-Africa cooperation has brought tangible benefits to the Chinese and African peoples, Basotho people included.
Since China and Lesotho established diplomatic relations in 1983, especially after resuming the relations in 1994, the two countries and peoples have been enjoying smooth development of friendly relations, with ever-enhancing practical cooperation in various fields. We are happy to see stronger momentum of growth in China-Lesotho relations in recent years.
The two countries have witnessed frequent exchanges of visit of all levels. Last month, Hon. Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Lehohla attended the Global Economic Leaders Summit held in Changchun, a city in the northern part of China. In June, a delegation led by the Hon. Minister of Local Government Mrs. Sekatle paid a visit to China, and in September, Hon. Minister of Finance and Development Planning Mr. Thahane and Hon. Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry Mr. Matla participated in, one after another, the international workshops sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce of China. They had fruitful discussions with corresponding officials in China. We believe that these high-level exchanges of visit will help deepen the mutual trust and understanding between the two countries and peoples.
The bilateral economic and technical cooperation have maintained rapid development and achieved fruitful results. Over recent years, the Chinese Government has been providing Lesotho with a number of aid projects. In addition to the accomplished projects, such as the Lesotho National Convention Centre, National Library and Archives, Butha-Buthe Industrial Park and two secondary schools, the Chinese Government has committed to provide more projects, including the New State House, the Technical Cooperation Project of Land Use and Physical Planning, the Statue of the Founder of the Parliament, and provision of Radio and Television Equipment. The above-mentioned projects have already been or being launched. Recently, the two Governments signed the Framework Agreement on Provision of Preferential Loan by the Chinese Government for the ETL National Network Phase II Project. As for the New Parliament Building, the Chinese construction company is working hard for an early hand-over. More over, both sides have been engaging in close technical cooperation in agriculture and medical care.
This year, China is planning to provide Lesotho with a Sinking Well Project, a Solar Energy Project and a middle school project, under the package aid framework of the Fourth Ministerial Meeting between China and Africa.
The people to people contacts between the two countries have also become closer, and educational and cultural exchanges more frequent, with China expanding training programmes for African countries including Lesotho. This year, among others, another seven Basotho students have been awarded full time Chinese Government Scholarship for further study in China. Fifteen military officers from Lesotho Defence Force have gained the opportunity to study or receive training in China. More than 100 government officials and technical personnel have participated in various short-term training courses in China, improving the quality of human resource in Lesotho.
Both countries have enjoyed ever-closer coordination and cooperation and supported each other on international affairs. China highly appreciates Lesotho for adhering to one-China policy.
The China-Lesotho friendly and cooperative relationship is based on the principle of equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit. China's aid to Lesotho aims at enhancing self-development capacity of Lesotho and increase the well-being of the Basotho people. China is ready to work with the government and people of Lesotho, to further develop our friendly relations.
Here, I'd like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all the friends who have dedicated themselves and made their contributions to the development of China-Lesotho relations and to the friendship of our two peoples.
Before the conclusion of my remarks, I have honour to introduce to you all members of the 8th Chinese medical team, who arrived in Lesotho earlier this month and have immediately started giving medical service to the Basotho people, and the newly arrived advanced group of the Sinohydro Company for the Metolong Dam Project. Let's give them a big hand and wish them well and have wonderful stay here in Lesotho.
Finally, may I invite you to join me in a toast:
To the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China;
To the development and prosperity of both China and Lesotho;
To the everlasting friendship between the Chinese people and Basotho people;
To the health of His Majesty King Letsie III and Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili;
To the health of everyone present here this evening,