For a new era of China-South Africa friend­ship

Sunday Times - - Insight | Brics 2018 - By XI JIN­PING, Pres­i­dent of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China

It gives me great plea­sure to pay my third state visit to the Repub­lic of South Africa and at­tend the 10th Brics Sum­mit at the in­vi­ta­tion of Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa. I am full of ex­pec­ta­tion as I wait to set foot again on the beau­ti­ful land of South Africa, the rain­bow na­tion stand­ing at the con­ver­gence of the In­dian and At­lantic oceans, and home to unique and mag­nif­i­cent land­scapes, in­dus­tri­ous and en­ter­pris­ing peo­ple, and colour­ful and plu­ral­is­tic cul­tures.

This year marks the 20th an­niver­sary of diplo­matic ties be­tween our two coun­tries, but the friendly in­ter­ac­tions be­tween our peo­ple go far beyond that.

Our peo­ple forged a deep friend­ship dur­ing our com­mon strug­gle against im­pe­ri­al­ism, colo­nial­ism and racism. Af­ter the birth of a new South Africa, es­pe­cially in the past 20 years of diplo­matic re­la­tions, our two coun­tries have sup­ported and learned from each other in our re­spec­tive ex­plo­ration of a de­vel­op­ment path suited to na­tional con­di­tions.

This re­la­tion­ship has stood the test of time and a chang­ing in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­ment. From a part­ner­ship to a strate­gic part­ner­ship, and then to a com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic part­ner­ship, our re­la­tion­ship has made big strides and demon­strated a strong growth mo­men­tum in po­lit­i­cal trust, eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion, peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes and strate­gic coordination.

Over the past six years, our two coun­tries have worked closely as co-chairs of the Fo­rum on Chi­naAfrica Co­op­er­a­tion (Fo­cac) to ad­vance com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic and co­op­er­a­tive part­ner­ship be­tween China and Africa.

Our bi­lat­eral ties have thus served as a model for China-Africa re­la­tions, for south-south co­op­er­a­tion, and for unity and co­op­er­a­tion among emerg­ing mar­ket coun­tries, of­fer­ing valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence for build­ing an even stronger com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture be­tween China and Africa, along with a new type of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions fea­tur­ing mu­tual re­spect, fair­ness and jus­tice, and win-win co­op­er­a­tion.

We en­joy close high-level ex­changes and fruitful prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion across the board. Our lead­ers have, through frequent mu­tual vis­its, meet­ings and other ex­changes, pro­vided top-level and strate­gic guid­ance for the bi­lat­eral ties. China has been South Africa’s largest trad­ing part­ner for nine years in a row, and South Africa has be­come China’s largest trad­ing part­ner in Africa.

Two-way trade to­talled $39.17-bil­lion (about R525-bil­lion) in 2017, more than 20 times the fig­ure at the start of our diplo­matic en­gage­ment. Pre­lim­i­nary sta­tis­tics show that China’s di­rect in­vest­ment in

South Africa has grown by more than 80 times and ex­ceeded $10.2-bil­lion in cu­mu­la­tive terms, cre­at­ing tens of thou­sands of jobs for lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and giv­ing a strong boost to the South African econ­omy.

Many Chi­nese com­pa­nies are run­ning suc­cess­ful busi­nesses in South Africa, which is a full tes­ta­ment to our mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial re­la­tion­ship for com­mon de­vel­op­ment. South African com­pa­nies, for their part, are also achiev­ing great suc­cess in China.

In re­cent years, mea­sures such as host­ing the Year of China/South Africa and launch­ing the High-Level Peo­ple-to-Peo­ple Ex­change Mech­a­nism have brought our two peo­ples even closer with greater mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and friend­ship.

We have seen ex­pand­ing co­op­er­a­tion in such ar­eas as ed­u­ca­tion, cul­ture, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, and health, and grow­ing ex­changes be­tween our youth and women.

South Africa has at­tracted more Chi­nese tourists, es­tab­lished sis­ter re­la­tions with more Chi­nese prov­inces and cities, and opened more Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes and class­rooms than any other sub-Sa­ha­ran coun­try.

China has be­come an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for South African stu­dents and tourists. Tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine com­pa­nies are ac­tively ex­plor­ing the South African mar­ket, in­tro­duc­ing acupunc­ture, cup­ping and other tra­di­tional Chi­nese ther­a­pies to the South African peo­ple as a new op­tion to treat ill­nesses and keep fit.

Chi­nese vol­un­teers have mo­bilised Chi­nese com­pa­nies and Chi­nese com­mu­ni­ties in South Africa to part­ner with lo­cal an­i­mal con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions and make their con­tri­bu­tion to wildlife pro­tec­tion in Africa.

Th­ese are all pow­er­ful ex­am­ples of China-South Africa and China-Africa friend­ship.

South Africa is now on a new jour­ney of na­tional de­vel­op­ment. Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa has put forth the goals of grow­ing the econ­omy, cre­at­ing jobs, im­prov­ing peo­ple’s lives and ad­vanc­ing so­cial trans­for­ma­tion, thereby ushering South Africa into a new era of hope and con­fi­dence.

China looks for­ward to work­ing with South Africa to build on the mo­men­tum of the 20th an­niver­sary of diplo­matic ties and strive for faster and greater progress in our com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic part­ner­ship.

We must steadily el­e­vate our po­lit­i­cal mu­tual trust to new lev­els. We need to main­tain high-level ex­changes, strengthen in­ter-party co­op­er­a­tion and gov­er­nance-ex­pe­ri­ence shar­ing, con­tinue to pro­vide each other with mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and sup­port on is­sues bear­ing on our re­spec­tive core in­ter­ests and ma­jor con­cerns, and stay for­ever as each other’s re­li­able good friend, good brother and good part­ner. I look for­ward to re­ceiv­ing Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa in Beijing in Septem­ber and co-chair­ing with him the Fo­cac Beijing Sum­mit.

We must strive for new out­comes in our prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion. We need to pro­mote com­ple­men­tar­ity be­tween our de­vel­op­ment strate­gies, and make full use of bi­lat­eral mech­a­nisms, Fo­cac, the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, Brics co­op­er­a­tion, and other platforms to deepen co­op­er­a­tion in key ar­eas such as in­dus­tries, pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity, re­sources and en­ergy, in­fra­struc­ture, fi­nance, tourism, and dig­i­tal econ­omy, de­liv­er­ing more ben­e­fits to our peo­ple.

We must in­crease com­mu­ni­ca­tion to add new im­pe­tus to our peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes. We need to lever­age the role of the High-Level Peo­ple-toPeo­ple Ex­change Mech­a­nism in en­hanc­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween our peo­ple, ex­pand co­op­er­a­tion in ed­u­ca­tion, cul­ture, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, health, and sports, and pro­mote ex­changes be­tween youth, women, think-tanks and me­dia out­lets.

Such mea­sures will bring greater pub­lic sup­port for China-South Africa friend­ship, and make our peo­ple more closely con­nected.

We must strengthen col­lab­o­ra­tion and scale new heights in our strate­gic coordination. We need to sup­port each other in host­ing the 2018 Fo­cac Beijing Sum­mit and the 10th Brics Sum­mit, step up coordination and co­op­er­a­tion within mul­ti­lat­eral frame­works in­clud­ing the UN, the G20 and Brics, and pro­mote the re­form of the global gov­er­nance sys­tem in a joint ef­fort to ad­vance the fun­da­men­tal in­ter­ests of African and other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

This will help to build a new type of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and a com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture for mankind, and to con­trib­ute wis­dom and pro­pos­als to solv­ing the world’s most press­ing is­sues.

This year also marks the 10th an­niver­sary of the BRICS Sum­mit. Ten years on, BRICS co­op­er­a­tion has achieved re­mark­able de­vel­op­ment and gained an ever-grow­ing in­flu­ence. This year’s sum­mit will be the first one held in the sec­ond “Golden Decade” of BRICS co­op­er­a­tion.

China will go all out to sup­port South Africa in host­ing this event. Un­der the theme of “BRICS in Africa: Col­lab­o­ra­tion for In­clu­sive Growth and Shared Pros­per­ity in the Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion”, we will deepen BRICS strate­gic part­ner­ship, en­hance BRICS sol­i­dar­ity and co­op­er­a­tion, and fa­cil­i­tate the in­ter-con­nected de­vel­op­ment of BRICS coun­tries.

We are con­fi­dent that this sum­mit will usher in an even brighter fu­ture for BRICS co­op­er­a­tion.

This year cel­e­brates yet an­other im­por­tant event, the 100th an­niver­sary of Nel­son Man­dela, the in­au­gu­ral pres­i­dent of the new South Africa.

To quote Mr. Man­dela: “The African re­birth is now more than an idea. Its seeds are be­ing sown in the re­gional com­mu­ni­ties we are busy build­ing and in the con­ti­nent as a whole.”

With un­remit­ting ef­forts, South Africa and the rest of the African Con­ti­nent gained a new life in the last cen­tury. I am con­fi­dent that this cen­tury will wit­ness the re­ju­ve­na­tion of South Africa and that of the whole African Con­ti­nent.

Let us work to­gether for a new era of China-South Africa friend­ship.

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