Speech delivered by Mr CA Basson, Chief Director Central and East Asia, Economic Affairs, Asia and Middle East, Department of International Relations and Cooperation, on occasion of the 61st Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China, Monday, 27 September 2010
Your Excellency, Mr. Zhong Jianhua, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Fellow South Africans
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Government and the people of the Republic of South Africa, it is my great privilege and honour to convey to the Government and the People of the People’s Republic of China our congratulations on the historic occasion of the 61st Anniversary celebration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The celebration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China affords the Chinese Government and its people an opportunity to reflect on its past achievements with a sense of pride, whilst, also looking into the future with a sense of optimism, purpose and determination.
On this historic occasion it is also important to reflect on the first contact between the People’s Republic of China and the African National Congress (ANC) stretching as far back as 1953, when Walter Sisulu, the leader and the strategist of the ANC visited China to seek support against apartheid. Therefore, as a representative the Government, I am proud to officiate at this auspicious occasion.
Contact between South Africa and China dates as far back as the Kingdom of Mapungubwe nearly thousand years ago. During all these years, China has been an all-weather friend of Africa.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations with China in 1998, and recognizing the “One China Policy”, relations between South Africa and China have grown to a point that the two countries are now close strategic partners.
In February 2010, our two Foreign Ministers agreed to elevate the strategic partnership to a new “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”. Today, it is not only the founding of the PRC that we celebrate, but also a celebration of the great progress in our relationship.
Ambassador Zhong, let me thank you personally for the recently concluded successful State Visit by President Zuma to the People’s Republic of China. Our President co-signed the Beijing Declaration on the Establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with President Hu Jintao.
South Africa is the first African country to sign such a Declaration with China and it may be mentioned that China has signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with eleven other countries.
Ladies and Gentleman
As you no doubt know, China is now South Africa’s biggest trading partner and a significant investor in the South African economy. The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China will further expand and deepen this relationship, but will also guide our relationship for the next ten to fifteen years in a number of very significant ways.
The Beijing Declaration on the Establishment of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, amongst others, makes provision for:
- Working towards more balanced trade,
- Encouraging trade in manufactured value–added products,
- Increasing trade and investment Missions,
- Establishment of a Joint Working Group on trade statistics,
- China to encourage its enterprises to increase investment in SA’s manufacturing industry,
- Promoting value-adding activities in close proximity to the source of raw materials,
- Cooperation and provision of mutual technical support in the areas of green economy, skills development and industrial financing,
- Encouraging companies from both countries to explore cooperation opportunities in infrastructure construction projects such as roads, railways, ports, power generation, airports and housing
The Beijing Declaration also makes provision for continued close cooperation in the areas of:
- Science and Technology,
- Agriculture/Agro processing/Forestry,
- Vocational Training / Training
- Tourism Development, and
- Poverty Alleviation and Rural Development,
It is also important to note that during the recent State Visit, sixteen (16) business contracts were signed between SA and Chinese companies. We believe that these business deals and what has been agreed to in the Beijing Declaration would contribute in achieving our National Priorities, such as: the creation of decent jobs, Education, Health, rural development and land reform and reducing crime.
The bilateral relationship between the two countries has yet to reach its full scope and depth, and it is South Africa’s sincere hope that the “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” will increase economic prosperity to our peoples. The challenge is now one of implementation. This is not only the task of Government but also that of the business sector. The ground work has been laid.
Ladies and Gentleman
South Africa is also one of the proud participants in the Shanghai 2010 World Expo, which has contributed significantly to increasing the positive image of our country in China. The design of the SA Pavilion is uniquely South African and has attracted much media attention.
The number of visitors to our Pavilion has exceeded the 2,5 million mark. The success of the South African Pavilion would not have been possible without the active support of the Chinese government and people. We would like to thank you for this support.
Ambassador Zhong, South Africa is also thankful for the very kind letter that President Hu Jintao has written personally to President Zuma congratulating South Africa on the successful hosting of the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup. The successful hosting of the Soccer World Cup has amply demonstrated the capacity and potential of South Africa and indeed the African continent to rise to challenges. We are fully resolved to build on these positive achievements and remain inspired by the knowledge that China will remain with us as a committed all - weather friend.
In conclusion, on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa, I wish to extend to His Excellency, President Hu Jintao, the Government and the people of the People’s Republic of China, our warmest congratulations and best wishes for the health and prosperity of the Chinese people, as we join you to celebrate the 61st Anniversary celebration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Please join me in a toast to the friendship, trust and prosperity between the Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China.