-Interview with former East Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta
"The Belt and Road Initiative is a great initiative that promotes global infrastructure connectivity and trade development. It is not just China, the world will benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative. Timor-Leste firmly supports the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative And hope to promote the integration of East Timor's national development strategy with the 'Belt and Road' as soon as possible. "Former East Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta said in an interview with this reporter recently.
According to Horta, East Timor and China have a long-standing friendship and close relations. China has always played an active and important role in the development of East Timor. Historically, China has firmly provided support and assistance to the people of East Timor for their independence and development. Today, China's "Belt and Road" initiative is also cost-effective and people of both countries.
"The Timor-Leste government is actively promoting the implementation of the" Belt and Road "project in East Timor." Horta said that Timor-Leste and China have signed a memorandum of understanding on "Belt and Road" cooperation and reached a number of large-scale infrastructure project cooperation agreements.
Horta noted that in recent years, some Western countries have made false statements about the debt situation of Third World countries participating in the “Belt and Road” cooperation. In this regard, he emphasized that research shows that China's loan interest rate is far lower than 4% of the International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank and 7% or 8% of European commercial banks. "Practice has proved that in cooperation with China, developing countries such as East Timor can actually benefit." Horta said.
Horta said that Timor-Leste is actively implementing the 2011-2030 development strategic plan, which includes a large number of infrastructure interconnection projects, which is highly consistent with the joint construction of the “Belt and Road” initiative. He emphasized: "We should promote the docking of the two as soon as possible, expand and deepen pragmatic cooperation in various fields, and achieve more mutual benefits and win-win results."
In recent years, more and more Chinese companies have invested in East Timor to invest in large-scale infrastructure projects. For example, the East Timor National Grid project that has entered the operation and maintenance phase, the first phase of the East Timor Expressway, the Suai Expressway Phase I project, which was officially opened to traffic in November last year, and the Tiba Port project under construction. Horta said that with the support of the Chinese side, the people of East Timor have higher expectations for the future state-building, and hope that Chinese enterprises can participate in East Timor's economic development more extensively and deeply.
Horta said that East Timor only recovered its independence in 2002, and there is still huge room for development in the fields of education, agriculture, and tourism. China has always provided valuable support and assistance. "I noticed that many East Timorese students are now studying in China. My son has studied in China and obtained a bachelor's degree and a master's degree. Now my grandson is learning Chinese and he hopes to study in China in the future." Orta said China has achieved brilliant development achievements and huge potential, and will always be an important partner of East Timor.
(From our newspaper, Dili, July 20)