Public Works Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko addressing the reception in celebration of the 68th National Day of the People's Republic of China held in Pretoria on Tuesday. Picture supplied by the Ministry of Public Works

Johannesburg - South Africa "attaches great value" to its relations with China, Public Works Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko said in his welcome remarks to the new Chinese ambassador, Lin Songtian.

Nhleko's comments were part of his congratulatory message to China delivered at the Chinese embassy's 68th national day celebration reception held in Pretoria on Tuesday.

“Our bilateral relations have always been friendly and both nations continue to strengthen these bonds. Since the establishment of bilateral ties, political, economic, trade and other cooperation fields have continued to grow, thus bringing our relations to new heights,” said Nhleko.

He said trade volume between South Africa and China for 2016 was more than R300 billion. Earlier this month South Africa became the first African country to export beef to China when Karan Beef became a supplier of frozen beef to that country. 

The new Chinese Ambassador to SA, Lin Songhtian, shows Public Works Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko some of the displays showcased at the event. Picture supplied by the Ministry of Public Works

Welcoming newly appointed Chinese ambassador, Songtian, Nhleko described him as "an old friend of South Africa". The SA public works minister also congratulated China for successfully hosting the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen.

Songtian said guided by the spirit of openness, inclusiveness, and win-win cooperation, China remains committed to deepening BRICS cooperation for a more fair, just and equitable global governance regime.

He said China was ready to work with all parties to support the efforts of South Africa to successfully host the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, and jointly usher BRICS cooperation into brighter future.

Ambassador Songtian said the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) chaired by President Xi Jinping and President Jacob Zuma in December 2015 had opened a new era of China-Africa win-win cooperation for common development.

“Thanks to our joint efforts and efficient delivery, the outcomes of the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit have been blossoming across all corners of the African continent," said Songtian.

"According to incomplete statistics, since the Summit, 606 projects have been completed, or under construction, or have been signed to be completed in Africa, with a total amount of over 108 billion US dollars of Chinese investment or loans.” 

He added China-Africa has a great potential and faces a rare historic opportunities to synergise development strategies.

“South Africa has become China’s biggest trading partner and the most important destination of investment and tourism in Africa. China has for eight years maintained South Africa’s largest trading partner.” 

He said in the first half of 2017, China-South Africa bilateral trade increased by 28.7% to 19.5 US billion dollars while Chinese investment in South Africa has exceeded 15 US billion dollars creating numerous jobs for local youth.