Opportunities beckon across South Africa
in promoting policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and strengthened people-to-people relations in the Belt and Road Initiative, Lin said.
Moreover, several seminars on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era were held in South Africa after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October. Participants hailed China’s achievements in reform and opening-up, poverty alleviation and sustainable development over the past decades.
Chinese enterprises that have invested in South Africa have brought many job opportunities for local people and contributed to both countries’ sustainable development by providing products and services that cater to local people’s needs, Lin added.
By the end of last year, Chinese investment in South Africa exceeded $25 billion (21 billion euros; £19 billion), creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for local people, Lin said. Investment is expected to double within five years, he said.
Lin, a native of Zhangzhou, Fujian province, said there were more than 300,000 Chinese investors in South Africa.
Tang said that he, as president of Farmers’ Daily, the largest Chinese newspaper focused on agriculture, would spare no effort in encouraging Chinese agricultural entrepreneurs to tap the South African market.
He said he planned to organize a delegation of Chinese entrepreneurs to visit the country and investigate the market soon.
With regard to issues that may concern foreign investors, Lin said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa — who took office in February and is expected to make a state visit to China in September — is working to tackle challenges posed by security problems, inconsistent policies for foreign investors and inefficient government services.
Lin said South African officials would be invited to visit Tianjin municipality and Xiamen, Fujian province, and attend training sessions on one-stop government services.
South Africa has good, solid diplomatic relations with China, said Michael Currin, executive deputy director of South Africa’s Government Communication and Information System, during a meeting with the media delegation in Johannesburg on May 29.
China and South Africa share a rich history of cooperation in areas of trade, investment, skills transfer and technological development, he said. The relationship continues to thrive after the two countries forged a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2010. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the countries.
South Africa has been the African co-chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation since 2015 and has the rotating presidency of the BRICS mechanism, Currin said.
China is not only South Africa’s largest trading partner but also a significant investor, especially in such areas as infrastructure and industrial projects, he said. “We are forever grateful for China’s continuous support for the development of South Africa.”
Several Chinese companies have launched operations in South Africa, and their success and experience are inspiring others to follow suit.
The refrigerator and television factories of Hisense Group, a Chinese home appliance maker, in Cape Town have only 35 Chinese employees but employ more than 2,700 local workers, said Lin, who visited the factories on May 16.
Hisense launched operations in South Africa in 1996 and is the country’s No 1 TV manufacturer and No 2 refrigerator producer.
The company has set a good example in labor-management relations for overseas Chinese enterprises by innovating management styles, Lin said. In the company’s factories, families of the workers are allowed to visit on an open day every month, and photos of local workers who have performed well are hung on a wall of honor. The children of the workers feel so proud of their parents when they are invited to visit the factories, he said.
Chinese agricultural enterprises should also vigorously seek investment opportunities in the South African market and help local farmers shake off poverty, Lin said, noting that the country boasts a variety of agricultural resources and large parcels of undeveloped land.
The ambassador suggested that Chinese companies sign contracts with local farmers to integrate production, processing and marketing of agricultural products, providing financial and technical support to solve the farmers’ marketing difficulties.
Lin said he was planning to work with the South African government to designate three villages as pilots for poverty alleviation efforts. If Chinese enterprises succeed at turning South Africa’s undeveloped land into high-yield cropland, orchards and animal husbandry bases, food security in China and the world at large will be further guaranteed, Lin said.
New Hope South Africa Ltd, a subsidiary of New Hope Group, China’s largest private agricultural company, has been a forerunner among Chinese agricultural enterprises that have invested in the country.
Established in Klipriver Business Park in Alberton in 2013, New Hope South Africa occupies an area of 33,000 square meters. With an investment of 100 million yuan ($15.6 million), the company started producing animal feed early in 2016. It has increased its annual production capacity to 60,000 metric tons, with annual output reaching 100 million yuan, according to Zhao Yang, general manager of the company.
With 70 employees, including nine from the Chinese mainland, the company has diversified its operations.
The company has innovatively produced dog food using existing equipment, making it the first of New Hope Group’s overseas outlets to do so.
New Hope Group’s feed business has entered more than 20 countries and regions, creating around 100,000 jobs overseas, Liu Yonghao, chairman of New Hope Group, said in an earlier report.
New Hope South Africa has also made great efforts to train local workers, share poultry breeding skills with local farmers and participate in local public welfare events, Zhao said.
The company has also promoted Chinese techniques for raising chickens in elevated cage houses, which greatly cuts costs and reduces the chances of poultry getting sick, Zhao said. The technology is the most advanced in the world, he claimed, adding that in South Africa and other regions in the world, including Europe, farmers generally raise chickens on the ground.
Meanwhile, the company has sponsored the South African preliminary round of the 10th Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign Secondary School Students and provided sports gear for local police officers participating in police soccer league matches. Such moves have effectively improved awareness of the company among local people, Zhao said.
For its Chinese employees who work far away from their families, the company offers a 45-day paid vacation, and family members can have flight ticket costs reimbursed once a year if they choose to visit their loved ones in South Africa, Zhao said.
Angel Appelcryn Buitendag, who has worked for the company as an administrative assistant for seven months, said: “New Hope employs a lot of locals, which hints at a great future for everybody. There are a lot of people dependent on the salary they get from here, with which they feed their families.”
When asked if New Hope had introduced any Chinese culture, she said South Africans had learned a lot from Chinese workers and were inspired by the way Chinese people do business. She also said she believed the Chinese had learned much from people in South Africa.
Chinese businesses are invited to explore the country’s potential and help to expand bilateral cooperation