Bilateral relations between South Africa and China have transcended diplomacy and depict a story of true friendship, according to the Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation, Maropene Ramokgopa.
Ramokgopa addressed several diplomats, academics, local and international media, and government officials at the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria on Friday at the launch of the book "Xi Jinping and Thriving China-South Africa Relations," penned by renowned academic Prof Paul Zilungisele Tembe.
The book was launched at a seminar hosted by the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong.
"South Africa will continue consolidating existing relations with China through various platforms such as BRICS and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac)," said Ramokgopa.
"We are excited that in less than a week's time, the much-anticipated 15th BRICS Summit under the chairship of South Africa will commence in Sandton, Johannesburg, having taken the baton from the sisterly People’s Republic of China."
The BRICS summit in South Africa will be held under the theme: "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism."
Ramokgopa said there is a clear demonstration of China’s respect for the autonomy and sovereignty of African nations, alongside its commitment to unleash developmental potential on the continent.
"Therefore, we anticipate that during our chairship of BRICS, our existing relations with China and the BRICS bloc will support South Africa’s foreign policy objectives towards the achievement of its domestic development imperatives, as well as promoting the broader socio-economic development goals of the African continent," said Ramokgopa, who is also the African National Congress's (ANC) second deputy secretary-general.
Earlier, the Ambassador of China to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong, said Chinese President Xi Jingping’s reunion with fellow BRICS heads of State and delegations in Johannesburg will reinvigorate energy in the bloc of emerging economies, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
Chen said the 15th BRICS summit to be held in South Africa next week carries special significance.
"This will be the first physical BRICS summit after three years and also the third time that BRICS countries get together in Africa after five years. That carries special significance," he said.
"The Chinese side is confident that President Xi’s reunion with the BRICS leaders in South Africa will produce important results and inject new energy into BRICS cooperation."
In March 2013, when Xi made his first trip abroad to attend an international multilateral conference as president, he was visiting South Africa for the BRICS Durban Summit.
"Since then, President Xi Jinping has presided over or attended BRICS Summits for 10 years in a row. He put forward Chinese initiatives and contributed Chinese wisdom to deepening BRICS solidarity," said Chen.
Regarding Xi’s State Visit next week, Chen said the visit is of great significance to the development of Pretoria and Beijing ties.
"On the political front, the two countries have strong mutual respect and trust. We firmly support each other on issues involving our respective core interests and major concerns. We closely communicate and coordinate with each other in international affairs," he said.
"On the economic and trade front, cooperation between our two countries benefits both sides. China has been South Africa's largest trading partner for 14 years in a row, and South Africa has been China’s largest trading partner in Africa for 13 years straight."
During the State Visit, Chen said Xi and Ramaphosa will have wide-ranging and in-depth exchanges of views on China-South Africa relations, China-Africa relations, BRICS cooperation, and international and regional issues of common concern.
"The two heads of State will review our two countries’ traditional friendship and usher in a new chapter of cooperation that promises an even better future," he said.
The two presidents will also witness the signing of important bilateral cooperation documents and hold a press briefing.