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Year of the Tiger: Ramaphosa joins Chinese Ambassador in lunar new year celebration

Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong addressing the Lunar New Year celebrations. Photo: Supplied

Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong addressing the Lunar New Year celebrations. Photo: Supplied

Published Jan 28, 2022


Pretoria – PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has extended well wishes to Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong when he addressed the virtual Chinese New Year celebrations, also called the Spring Festival, which celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese lunar calendar.

“Dear friends in South Africa, in the People's Republic of China, and around the world, I wish you all well as we usher in the Chinese Year of the Tiger, an animal that symbolizes strength, bravery and independence,” said Ramaphosa.

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“As we recover and rebuild in the wake of Covid-19, it is our wish that the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and South Africa will lead to mutual economic growth, development and common prosperity, prosperity for ourselves, for our respective regions, and for the rest of the world.”

Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong with President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria. File Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Ramaphosa said focus will be on ending the pandemic, alleviating poverty, reducing inequality and creating more jobs in the year ahead.

“South Africa is grateful to the People's Republic of China for its support throughout the pandemic, and particularly for working to ensure that Africa has greater access to Covid-19 vaccines. The global recovery depends on everyone being vaccinated,” he said.

“We are only safe when everyone is safe. No country and no community must be left behind. There is a wise African proverb that says ‘if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go further, go together’.”

The Chinese new year is the most prominent and celebrated Chinese holiday. Across China, frenzied celebrations often last for around two weeks. The festivities are marked by Chinese people and others from East Asia across the globe.

This is the Year of Tiger in the Chinese zodiac. It starts on February 1 and will end in January 2023. The first week of festivities, from February 1-7, is also a national holiday in China.

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Ambassador Chen said this year’s festival has added euphoria because in a few days to come, the much anticipated Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games will begin.

“The world is looking to China to deliver and China is ready. Guided by the Olympic spirit, the Beijing Winter Olympic Games will promote peace, unity, hope and courage, and usher in the way for humanity to join hands to defeat Covid-19 and provide a stage to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind,” said Chen.

“Under the guidance of President Xi Jinping's approach of a green, inclusive, open and clean olympics, preparations for the Winter Games and Covid-19 response are moving forward smoothly.”

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The Chinese diplomat said the auspicious spring festival celebrations have been held in South Africa for ten years in a row.

“This year, we once again gather virtually because of Covid-19. Although we are not physically together, our hearts and minds are closely connected to each other,” said Chen.

“In Chinese culture, the tiger symbolizes vitality, vigour, courage and strength. May we bring out the vigour, vitality and strength of a tiger in the Year of the Tiger, so that we all can have stronger energy and new progress in our work, national development and China-South Africa relations.”

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“Last but not least, let us wish the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa prosperity, national peace and happiness,” said Chen.

Economically, South Africa and China are strong business and trading partners. Data from the Department of International Relations shows that China is South Africa’s largest trading partner. In 2020, total bilateral trade between South Africa and China amounted to R437 billion, which includes the trade figures of Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan.