Pretoria – Chinese consul-general in Joburg, Tang Zhongdong has led celebrations marking 25 years of bilateral diplomatic relations between South Africa and China.
He reviewed the journey travelled since 1998 to the current day where the ties have reached unprecedented levels.
At a prestigious event attended by several South African government officials, fellow diplomats and local and international media, Tang said the trade volume is at $56 billion (more than R1-trillion), a considerable rise from the US$1 billion in 1998.
“In 2022, China-South Africa trade volume grew up to 56.7 billion, 40 times more than that $1.56 billion in 1998. China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner since 2009, and South Africa has been China’s largest trading partner in Africa since 2010 with massive surplus,” Tang told his guests.
“As announced previously, over the next three years China will import $100 billion of goods from South Africa which is also one of largest investment destinations for Chinese enterprises in Africa. Total Chinese investment on South Africa exceeded $25 billion by the end of 2021.
“There are more than 200 Chinese companies operating here. Last year, the Job Fair in Johannesburg organised by Chinese Embassy attracted thousands of South African graduates, and hundreds of Chinese companies promised to employ 20 000 local people in three years,” he said.
Looking back, Tang said over the past 25 years, China-South Africa relations have made a significant leap from an ordinary partnership to a strategic partnership, then to comprehensive strategic partnership.
He highlighted that Chinese presidents have paid five State visits to South Africa, while South African presidents have paid six state visits to China.
“In recent years, under the joint guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Cyril Ramaphosa, political mutual trust between the two countries has continued to deepen, and cooperation in various fields has become increasingly close, bringing tangible benefits to the peoples of both countries,” said the Chinese diplomat.
This year, Tang said the bilateral relationship between South Africa and China has scaled new heights.
“As part of the 25th anniversary of bilateral relations, the two foreign ministers of both countries exchanged letters of congratulations in the beginning of the year to reaffirm the well-established relations. The two governments have planned several activities that will take place throughout the year in both countries to celebrate this milestone,” said Tang.
“China is willing to strengthen dialogue and co-operation with South Africa, join hands in exploring modernisation paths that suit respective national conditions, and stride forward on the path of building a high-level China-South Africa community with a shared future in the new era.”
Later this year, South Africa will host the 15th BRICS Summit, with senior government leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and China expected in South Africa.
“The world will once again listen to the BRICS proposal. In the face of the complex international situation and global challenges, South Africa has adopted ‘BRICS and Africa: A Partnership for Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism’ as the theme of this BRICS Summit, reflecting the common desire of BRICS and African countries to promote peaceful development in the world,” said Tang.
He said more and more countries, such as Iran, Indonesia and Argentina, want to join the BRICS mechanism because they believe “BRICS is a positive choice when facing tough challenges”.
Tang said the BRICS summit will definitely write a new chapter for BRICS co-operation.
“China fully supports the work of the South African chairmanship, jointly promote the BRICS mechanism with more tangible achievements, and consistently inject strong momentum for solidarity and cooperation among developing countries,” he said.
As part of the festivities, the Chinese consulate general in Joburg held an exhibition with more than 30 pictures to showcase “the great feats achieved in the past decade in China”.
“The purpose of holding such an exhibition in my office is to help South African friends to have a more direct and comprehensive understanding in the great achievements of the last decade in China,” said Tang.