Major General Shang Hong, Chinese Defence Attaché to the Republic of South Africa.
This year, we celebrate the 96th Anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
For 96 years, the heroic people’s army led by the Communist Party of China (CPC) has gone through wars and difficult time, won indelible achievements in national independence, people’s liberation and prosperity, served as a strong support to safeguard our national sovereignty, safety and development interests, made significant contributions in world peace and tranquillity.
1.Set a clear goal to build a world-class army
A strong country must have a strong military, as only then can it guarantee the security of the nation. The CPC’s 20th National Congress has set the Party’s goal for military development in the new era. That is, the people’s army shall be built to obey the Party’s command, to fight and win, and to maintain exemplary conduct.
A three-step strategy has been formulated to achieve the centenary objectives of the PLA by 2027, to basically complete the modernisation of national defence and the armed forces by 2035, and fully transform into a world-class army by the mid-21st century.
Standing on the new historic point, the PLA, guided by Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, will fully implement Xi Jinping’s Thinking on Strengthening the Military, follow the Chinese path to build a strong military to speed up the modernisation of national defence and military to build strong national defence and powerful armed forces that are commensurate with China’s international standing and meet the needs of our security and development interests so as to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to provide strategic support for the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation.
China’s peace-loving nature, diplomatic policies and cultural traditions determine the unswerving path of peaceful development. China will never seek hegemony, expansion or sphere of influence.
2. Promote the establishment of a new world order with joint efforts
The world today is not a tranquil place: changes unseen in a century are fast evolving, major-country competition is intensifying, geopolitical conflicts are escalating, the global security governance system is woefully lagging behind, and traditional and non-traditional security threats keep flaring up.
As a responsible major country, China stands firmly against any form of hegemonism and power politics, against the Cold War mentality, and against any interference in other country’s internal affairs.
We always stand ready to work hand in hand with all peace-loving countries, including South Africa, to uphold the concept of community with a shared future for mankind, to follow the new Vision on Security and Global Security Initiative.
We are expected to contribute China’s wisdom to the efforts of mankind in tackling the peace deficit, offer China’s solution to addressing international security challenges, and make China’s efforts to preserve the world’s peace and tranquillity. As a force of power, civilisation and peace, the PLA, by firmly exercising the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and actively participating in international peacekeeping, naval escort and humanitarian relief operations, can be counted on as promoter of world peace, contributor to global development, and upholder of the international order.
3. Deepen cooperation for a new chapter of friendship
Geographically far apart, China and South Africa had established a special bond of Comrades Plus Brothers between our two nations and militaries as early as South Africa’s Anti-Apartheid period.
With the joint guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Cyril Ramaphosa, the China-South Africa Comprehensive Strategic Partnership has developed profoundly into an example of the China-African relationship and South-South Cooperation.
As an important part of our overall bilateral relationship, the PLA-SANDF friendship, guided by our two presidents, has been embracing pragmatic cooperation in various fields with tangible results, including high-level exchanges, mechanism building, joint training and exercise, military academies, medicine and health, international peacekeeping, etc.
Upon the end of the Covid-19 epidemic, the PLA-SANDF friendship reached a new period of full recovery and rapid development. In February 2023, China, Russia and South Africa successfully held the second Joint naval exercise, which not only symbolises a significant achievement of BRICS national security cooperation but also a concrete embodiment of China-South African deepening cooperation in defence.
Just recently, General Rudzani Maphwanya, Chief of SANDF, paid a successful visit to China, thus laying a solid foundation for enhancing strategic mutual trust and deepening pragmatic cooperation.
With our joint efforts, the PLA-South African relationship, at its best period in history, has become both the ballast and the propeller of the China-South Africa Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
The year 2023 is the 25th anniversary of the China-South African diplomatic relationship and the year of BRICS South Africa, embarking on new opportunities for development for the China-South Africa relationship and PLA-SANDF cooperation.
China firmly supports South Africa in protecting her developmental interests and legitimate right, in playing a leading role in the African Continent, and in hosting the BRICS summit and other related events.
Let’s enhance our unity, tackle challenges hand in hand, and open a new chapter of deepening friendship and protecting world peace.