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A deep love for a beautiful country and its people

China’s ambassador to South Africa, His Excellency Lin Songtian.

China’s ambassador to South Africa, His Excellency Lin Songtian.

Published Mar 23, 2020


My wife and I leave South Africa today, the beautiful Rainbow country where I have worked for two years and seven months, to return to China.

As Air China will suspend flights between China and South Africa from March 24 amid the outbreak of Covid-19, we have to leave in a hurry and deeply regret not saying goodbye to each and every friend from the South African government, political parties, Parliament, the business community, the media, think tanks, universities and diplomatic missions, and the Chinese community. This is for the sake of everyone’s safety and health.

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I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to all the friends who have long been supportive of me and the Chinese Embassy in South Africa and are devoted to the friendly win-win cooperation between China and South Africa.

I recall when I arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on August9, 2017, I promised to do my best to fulfil my mission, serving as a bridge and envoy between China and South Africa, and working with friends from all walks of life in South Africa to promote this cooperation between our two countries in various fields.

I have been engaged in China-Africa relations for decades, worked in four African countries, three as ambassador, I worked as D-G for China-Africa relations, and visited 38 African countries. I deeply love this continent and the cause of China-Africa friendship that I have devoted myself to, and this has been a brilliant chapter in my diplomatic career.

During my term in South Africa I have grown a deep love for this beautiful country and its hospitable people. I have visited all nine provinces; travelled frequently between Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth, but also been to Nelson Mandela’s hometown in the Eastern Cape, Qunu; visited communities in Soweto as well as the PMC mining area in Limpopo; I have been to more than 10 special economic zones and industrial parks, several ports and remote villages to pilot village poverty reduction projects.

I have visited universities and donated school bags, stationery and shoes to primary schools, and during the floods went to Durban to bring donations from the Chinese community in South Africa to those in need. Wherever I went, I was deeply impressed by the enabling conditions and great potential for South Africa’s development, by the friendship, kindness, enthusiasm and hospitality of the South African people, and the profound public support for China-South Africa’s friendship.

I reached out broadly to make friends with the South African government, political parties, Parliament, business and academic communities, the media, think tanks, and women and youth from all walks of life, and received their sincere understanding and firm support in promoting the development of China-South Africa relations and telling the true story about China.

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Because of our common commitment, more South Africans now have a better understanding of a changing China that is open, friendly and inclusive, developing and cooperative, and can truly enjoy tangible benefits brought about by friendship between our countries.

I am proud that last year the Chinese Embassy in South Africa for the first time invited delegations of vice-chancellors from about 10 South African universities, principals from more than 30 primary and secondary schools, and student leaders from 26 South African universities to visit China.

We also, for the first time, invited delegations of South African religious leaders, media and think tanks to visit Tibet to get first-hand experience of China’s new changes and development.

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After more than 40 years of reform and opening up, China, once a poor and backward country, has become the world’s second largest economy, the largest trader and the largest manufacturer.

However, China is still the largest developing country in the world with a population of more than 1.4 billion, and one out of every five people in the world needs the care of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government.

By the end of 2020, all Chinese people will be lifted out of absolute poverty with no one left behind, creating a miracle in the history of human development. However, China needs to keep improving and has been modernising the national governance system and capacity.

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China is committed to sharing development experiences and opportunities with other countries, and we welcome friends from all walks of life in South Africa to visit China and experience its development, prosperity, harmony, stability and vitality. It is my strong belief that anyone without political prejudice will give a thumbs-up for China’s development miracle!

During my term, China-South Africa cooperation has yielded fruitful outcomes in five major areas: political mutual trust, economy and trade, people-to-people exchanges, security and international coordination. Our cooperation in trade, investment and tourism is gaining momentum for a full harvest, thus laying a solid foundation for a better future of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and South Africa.

I had the privilege to work for the successful exchange of state visits by H.E. President Xi Jinping and H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa, who also co-chaired the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg and 2018 Beijing Summit of the Focac, charting a blueprint for the future development of our bilateral relations.

I am proud that China has become South Africa’s irreplaceable largest trading partner, a major source of investment and tourists, and the most reliable and trustworthy strategic partner for South Africa’s socio-economic transformation and development.

We will continue to uphold justice while pursuing shared interests as instructed by President Xi Jinping when developing relations with developing countries, and firmly support South Africa’s efforts to break through its development bottlenecks and become a locomotive and production base for African industrialisation and modernisation, and a pilot country for synergising the Belt and Road Initiative with Africa’s development.

There is always a time for people to say goodbye, particularly for diplomats. I am leaving with reluctance but I am proud to say that under the guidance and personal care of our two heads of state, and the support of the two governments, the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership is standing at an historical point and embracing broader prospects for common development.

Returning to China, I will assume a new post for a new chapter. I will continue to uphold the principles of sincerity, friendship, mutual respect and mutual benefit to contribute my humble efforts to promote the friendly exchanges and win-win cooperation between China and the world, especially with South Africa and other African countries, so as to jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind and a better future for all peoples around the world.

I want to thank, once again, all the friends and colleagues who have supported the development of China-South Africa relations and provided selfless help for me to fulfil my duties in South Africa. I look forward to meeting you again in Beijing.

May the friendship between the peoples of China and South Africa be everlasting!

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