China's Ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian. Picture: ANA

Cape Town - The world order has changed and it was time to take hands and chart a common destiny.

This was one of the central themes to emerge from a seminar held in Cape Town on Thursday under the twin headings Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and Xi Jinping: the Governance of China II Book Review.

Speaking at the event, National Assembly House chairperson, Cedric Frolick, lauded the relationship between China and Africa in a changing global environment and the "visionary" leadership approach by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"Whoever thought those who claimed to be the protectors of democracy and freedom in the world now find themselves on the other side," he said.

"The world order has changed and it is time to take hands and chart a common destiny."

China's Ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian said South Africa and China are united by a shared philosophy, with his country striving to promote social fairness and justice and to win the battle against poverty.

“We will not leave anyone behind on our path of prosperity,” Songtian said of China's goal of creating a "moderately prosperous society in all respects". 

He added that the dream of the Chinese people is connected to the dream of other countries and that China will always promote world peace.

“China has always been a community of a shared future,” said Songtian.

The ambassador called upon other developing countries to join and focus on investment in infrastructure development and human resources development in Africa.

He said the recent 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China had set out a host of new ideas, a blueprint and strategy for Chinese development which included that of a shared world future.

"We must strengthen unity and co-operation to build a better China, South Africa and Africa, and better relations to promote a better world and a shared future of mankind," Lin said.

Dr Iqbal Surve, whose Independent Media co-hosted the seminar, said South Africa had experienced a political miracle while China in recent decades had experienced an economic miracle.

"We have the political miracle, now we need the economic miracle and create a wonderful future for people on the African continent," he said. 

"We need to take people out of poverty," said Surve, who is also chair of the Brics Business Council. "We have to ask 'why is there so much inequality?'

"People complain about crime, particularly violent crime, which occurs in societies with the greatest inequalities. We can't live in isolation of people who do not have the most basic things, like food to eat.

"We are a country of great potential, a continent with enormous prospects, but we continue to not optimise our potential," he said, adding that the vast majority of peoples continued to live in environments and conditions "we wouldn't wish on our worst enemies". 

He said that South Africa and Africa needed to look at the Chinese example of how they lifted 700 million people out of poverty.

"We must understand Chinese development and use this," Surve said. "Not everything is applicable to South Africa or Africa, but we must use those lessons." 

He cited the need to meet the basic conditions and needs of people in order to create the foundation for a prosperous society and said corridors of mobility was one key avenue to help open up development.

"China has not just thought of itself, but of the region, and is the biggest investor in Africa despite some people questioning its motives," Surve added. "We are not surrogates to anyone, to China, the US, Germany, or anybody." 

He said he believed that in the next two decades deepened Africa-China relationships across numerous levels "can really make a difference".