Lamia AFrin

Botswana-China Bilateral Relations:
An Overview

Africa’s most vibrant economies include Botswana. People from Europe and India had important positions within Botswana’s economy for a sizable amount of time. Botswana was extremely dependent on wholesalers and transporters from Europe and India due to its inexperience and lack of finance. Numerous South African investments continue to have an impact in Botswana.

But the establishment of the Peking government in reaction to China’s admittance to the UN Security Council-UNSC in 1971 was one of the most momentous events in the history of China’s ties with the entire Third World, and particularly with Africa.

Botswana and the People’s Republic of China established diplomatic relations in January 1975. The friendly ties and collaboration between the two nations have been advancing at a very rapid rate on the basis of the values of real friendship, reciprocal respect and trust, equality, and mutual benefit. [1]

Strong political links have been developed between the two nations and their relationship has been solid. Frequent exchanges of high-level visits, consistent advancement in all disciplines, and effective coordination in international affairs are only a few ways that this relationship’s intimacy and friendliness have been demonstrated. On significant global problems, both parties have backed one another’s positions. Botswana’s unwavering support of the One China policy is greatly appreciated by China.

Both nations have invested a lot of effort in fostering cooperation and sociocultural exchanges. Chinese and Botswanan officials reportedly signed an agreement on cultural cooperation in 1991, and since then, a number of events have been exchanged between the two countries. Additionally, China has been in favor of cooperation with Botswana in the areas of education and the advancement of its human resources. 

For Botswana students interested in pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in China, the Chinese Government has offered annual scholarships since 1984. China offers short-term training opportunities to Botswana in a range of industries, including information technology, agriculture, business and commerce, industry, sport, and the military, in an effort to support the country’s human resource development. Chinese medical personnel have also long provided services in Botswana. 

According to a bilateral agreement, China has sent more than 300 medical professionals to Botswana continuously since 1980. Starting with the medical team’s 12th contingent, the Chinese government began paying all of the salaries. It is significant to highlight that recent collaborative ventures between China and Botswana have had excellent success. 

The main driver of economic relations between the two nations is thought to have been governmental cooperation in economy and technology. In order to help the country’s attempts to develop its nation, China has provided Botswana with a certain amount of financial assistance, including grants and preferential loans

The Botswana railway is one of these projects, along with affordable housing, land surveying and planning, road building, health facilities, agricultural technology, human resource development, and others. Intergovernmental cooperation in the areas of economy and technology has been a driving force in Botswana and China’s relationship ever since both countries established diplomatic ties. [2]

Reasons of Chinese Investment in Botswana

Democracy

Botswana has a multi-party constitutional democracy. Both the majority and the minorities of the country participate freely in the political process. There are two main rival parties- Botswana Democratic Party-BDP) and Botswana National Front. General elections are held every five years and are independent of the judiciary, executive and legislature. Due to the establishment of democracy, Botswana claims a comparatively high level of status in comparison to its African rivals.[3]

China’s Principles

As with other African nations, China’s five guiding principles have assisted it in managing its relations with Botswana. These are the guiding principles:

  1. Respect for one another’s national sovereignty and integrity
  2. Non-interference in domestic affairs
  3. Equality
  4. Mutual benefit
  5. Coexistence in peace.

China has led a number of investment projects in Botswana in addition to providing aid to implement the adopted policies. 43 construction projects, including medical facilities, governmental buildings, educational facilities, and housing developments, were in progress in 2005. But grants and preferential loans are the typical forms of help that go to Botswana.[4]

Less Corruption

Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index in 2021 gave a score of 55 on the Corruption Perceptions Index. Botswana was ranked 45th out of 180 countries.[5]

Botswana Corruption Index. Trading Economics, 2022.

A country rich in diamonds

Botswana discovered diamonds only 3 years after gaining independence from the British in 1966. Diamond is one of the most romantic gemstones. Although small in size, Botswana is the largest diamond producing country in the world. Five decades ago, the rare stone helped transform the nation from one of the most impoverished on the continent to one of the most prosperous and thriving. The eighth-largest diamond exporter in the world, Botswana shipped $4 billion worth of diamonds in 2020. In the same year, diamonds ranked as Botswana’s top export.[6]

China-Friendly President

The present president of Botswana is Mokgweetsi Masisi. Chinese companies think there is a lot of   for cooperation between China and Botswana in a variety of sectors, including infrastructure, technology, tourism, health care, etc. with a president who is favorable to China.

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

BRI is a significant effort to promote international cooperation and a Chinese public good offered to the world. The goal is to strengthen infrastructure development in developing nations, improve connectivity, and increase their capacity for independent development. In 2021, the two nations signed a document outlining their plans to build the BRI together, making Botswana the continent of Africa’s 46th BRI partner nation.[7]

[1] “An Overview of the Relations between China and Botswana,” Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Botswana, 2008, http://bw.china-embassy.org/eng/sbgx/t404979.html.

[2] Y. Zi, Iron Sharpens Iron: Social Interactions at China Shops in Botswana (Langaa RPCIG, 2017), https://books.google.com.bd/books?id=JvtWEAAAQBAJ.

[3] Neil Parsons, “Botswana,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 2023, https://www.britannica.com/place/Botswana.

[4] Rabbiya Kamal Nagra, “China in Africa: The Case of Botswana,” LinkedIn, 2020, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/china-africa-case-botswana-rabbiya-kamal.

[5] “Transparency International Botswana,” Transparency International, 2021, https://www.transparency.org/en/countries/botswana.

[6] “Diamonds in Botswana,” oec world, accessed January 27, 2023, https://oec.world/en/profile/bilateral-product/diamonds/reporter/bwa.

[7] Botlhe Dikobe, “Botswana’s Relations with China Continue to Deepen,” ChinaDaily, 2021, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202103/23/WS60594006a31024ad0bab0dff.html.

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