The National Day Celeberations of the People’s Republic of China

Your Excellency, Ambassador TIAN Xuejun

Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador M’poko

Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners

Members of the Diplomatic Community

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

I am told that a well-known Chinese author once stated that: “Originally, there was no path, but after many people travel a certain way, a path is forged”.

Over the past seventeen years, travelling between our two countries by people from all walks of life has become an everyday occurrence – there was a meeting of the minds and a forging of paths. I firmly believe that countries can only build lasting relationships when there is a clear understanding of each other’s history, culture and values, when people-to-people contact becomes the focus of that interaction.

It was for that reason that our two countries have engaged in hosting cross-cultural seasons over the past two years. The year 2014 witnessed the very successful Year of South Africa in China.  This year, 2015, we are pleased to reciprocate with the Year of China in South Africa and I believe it was a glowing success thus far.  I wish you well with the remainder of the activities that are lying ahead.

The friendship and exchanges between the South African and Chinese people pre-date the contemporary era. South Africa considers China to be a trusted friend with bonds that could be traced back to South Africa’s ancient Kingdom of Mapungubwe, where archaeological evidence informs us that trade between South Africa and China existed between the years 1200 and 1300AD.

The Chinese cartographer, Chu Ssu-Pen had drawn Southern Africa on his maps as early as 1320. Furthermore, evidence of ceramic dating back to the Song Dynasty found in Zimbabwe and South Africa is further proof of our ancient trade relations.

China’s more contemporary support for the liberation movements in Africa in general, and South Africa in particular, during the 20th Century formed the basis of our political relations. The first contact between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the African National Congress (ANC) was in 1953, when Mr Walter Sisulu visited China to seek support against apartheid. From the first contact with leaders in the newly formed People’s Republic of China in 1953.

During the last seventeen years, since 1 January 1998 when South Africa and China established diplomatic relations, we began our journey to ‘forge the path’ into the 21st Century.

The first decade of the 21st century has already witnessed profound changes in the international landscape, as well as developments in South Africa-China relations. Our relationship has achieved an historical pinnacle and was elevated from a “partnership” in 2000, to a “strategic partnership” in 2004 and to “comprehensive strategic partnership” in 2010.

Since the establishment of bilateral ties, cooperation in the political, economic, trade and other fields has continued to grow, thus bringing our relations to a new high.  There has been a steady stream of exchanges between our two countries in recent times, reflected by the number of Presidential, Deputy President, Ministerial, Senior Officials and other visits that happen on a regular basis. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa paid a working visit to China in July 2015, which included a review of progress made with regard to the implementation of the “Five-to-Ten Year Framework on Strategic Cooperation between the Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China”. We stand to learn a great deal from China’s re-industrialisation process and as such, Deputy President Ramaphosa’s visit also focused on how South Africa’s State-owned Enterprises could learn from the Chinese experience. Furthermore, President Zuma’s visit to China earlier this month to attend the celebrations that marked the 70th Anniver
sary of the Victory of the Chinese Peoples’ War of Resistance and the World Anti-Fascist War, also allowed him the opportunity to discuss our bilateral relations with President Xi. Both leaders agreed that our relationship is at its best level ever.

Economic cooperation and trade between South Africa and China have developed fast and has great potential.Total trade between South Africa and China experienced an upward trajectory since 2009, growing from R118 billion to R271 billion by the end of 2013, but decreased to R261 billion by the end of 2014.  Between 2009 and 2014, total trade’s growth rate highest peak was 36% in 2011, due to China’s increased appetite for South Africa’s raw commodities. China has set up more than 80 companies in South Africa since 1998, bringing its FDI (cumulatively) to nearly US$6 billion. This figure includes an investment of approximately US$ 5.5 billion by the PRC’s ICBC bank that purchased a 20 percent stake in Standard Bank in March 2012. South African investment in China is valued at approximately US$ 700 million. There are existing opportunities for China to increase its investment in South Africa. We will encourage China to support South Africa’s industrial agenda and explore investment in the development of Science
and Technology and Industrial Parks, as well as in key areas such as marine transport and manufacturing (MTM), white goods, offshore oil and gas exploration (O&G), aquaculture, agro-processing, mining and mineral beneficiation, renewable energy, finance and tourism.

Your Excellency,

South Africa also attaches great importance to our collaboration within the Joint Working Group (JWG). We had our first Ministerial meeting in September last year in Beijing and we look forward to host the Chinese side in South Africa early in 2016. We met our Chinese colleagues in June this year to take stock of progress made thus far and both sides expressed their satisfaction with developments in this area of cooperation.

South Africa once again, wishes to reiterate its welcome of the invitation by China to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. We view infrastructure development as a catalyst forsustainable economic development and the improvement of the quality of life of our people in a fundamental way.

The strategic partnership between South Africa and China is durable and meaningful, and will continue to provide a long-lasting partnership for development and progress. Through the “Five-to-Ten Year Strategic Programme for Cooperation” which was endorsed by our leaders in 2014, South Africa will continue to work with China to implement the programme which focuses on bilateral cooperation including, amongst others, Political Mutual Trust and Strategic Coordination; Mutual Beneficial Economic Cooperation and Trade; People-to-People Exchanges and Cooperation; African Affairs and China-Africa Relations as well as Cooperation in International Affairs and BRICS related issues.

We look forward to hosting the 2nd FOCAC Summit for the first time on Africansoil on the 15th anniversary of its establishment.The Summit will further consolidate the partnership between Africa and China through South-South cooperation, giving special attention to industrialisation and the regional integration of economies in Africa.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the Government and the People of the Republic of South Africa, I wishto convey to the Government and the People of the People’s Republic of China, our congratulations on this special occasion of the celebration of your National Day.

I believe that there is a Chinese proverb that says: “A thousand cups of wine do not suffice when true friends meet”. In this spirit, allow me, therefore, to propose a toast to the good health and prosperity of President Xi and the people of China.  May we continue to forge paths on our road to the further development of South Africa-China relations and Africa-China relations.

Gam Bei!

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