Peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­change to strengthen ties with China

Vuk'uzenzele - - International Relations / Africa News -

South Africa has be­come one of a se­lect group of coun­tries to en­ter a part­ner­ship with China en­cour­ag­ing cit­i­zens to share knowl­edge and ideas with each other. The US, Rus­sia, UK, France and In­done­sia have sim­i­lar agree­ments with the Asian su­per­power.

The South Africa-China High Level Peo­ple-to-Peo­ple Ex­change Mech­a­nism (PPEM) will help both coun­tries ex­change in­for­ma­tion, iden­tify com­mon op­por­tu­ni­ties and cre­ate strate­gies and ob­jec­tives to their mu­tual ben­e­fit.

“Of­ten called soft diplo­macy, learn­ing about each other’s world view, be­lief sys­tems and way of life is a crit­i­cal part of cre­at­ing a bet­ter world for all,” Arts and Cul­ture Min­is­ter Nathi Mthethwa said at the pro­gramme’s re­cent launch.

The ex­change will al­low peo­ple em­ployed in the ar­eas of so­ci­ety, cul­ture, econ­omy, science and tech­nol­ogy to work more closely to­gether.

As Deputy Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency Buti Manamela ex­plained: “If we do not strengthen re­la­tions at the level of peo­ple-to-peo­ple, then all other agree­ments be­come of no con­se­quence be­cause it is peo­ple who should drive these.”

Science and tech­nol­ogy boosted

Im­por­tantly, the PPEM will strengthen ties be­tween the Depart­ment of Science and Tech­nol­ogy (DST) and the Chi­nese Min­istry of Science and Tech­nol­ogy. The agree­ment en­vi­sions 15 new re­search and de­vel­op­ment (R&D) projects, in­clud­ing a Big Data pro­gramme in the in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sec­tor.

The Na­tional Re­search Foun­da­tion will man­age most of the new ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing a Young Sci­en­tist Ex­change Pro­gramme. Shared re­search projects in biotech­nol­ogy, new ma­te­ri­als and ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing, and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy are also in the pipe­line.

A new joint mining and min­er­als re­search cen­tre will fo­cus on cut­ting-edge R&D and in­no­va­tion, with the aim of com­mer­cial­is­ing any shared de­vel­op­ments.

High-tech science park

The de­part­ments of Science and Tech­nol­ogy (DST) and Higher Ed­u­ca­tion (DHT) have part­nered with the Chi­nese re­search in­sti­tu­tion Torch to build a high-tech park in Gaut­eng. There are plans for three re­search cen­tres – DST and DHT are con­duct­ing fea­si­bil­ity and fi­nan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity stud­ies – which need to be within 50 kilo­me­tres of re­search in­sti­tu­tions and re­source pools.

At the launch of the new sci­en­tific co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment, Min­is­ter Naledi Pan­dor said: “Our goal is to de­velop in South Africa, through close co­op­er­a­tion with China, a science park that will be­come an in­stru­ment for in­clu­sive growth and ac­cel­er­ated trans­for­ma­tion of our econ­omy.

“Our ef­forts are in­spired and in­formed by China’s tremen­dous suc­cess in build­ing science parks to drive in­no­va­tion.”

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