The embassy of the People’s Republic of China in South Africa kicked-off its Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, with revelries also knows as the Spring Festival hosted at Time Square in Pretoria, in accordance with the lunar calendar.
This year, the Chinese New Year falls on February 10.
The year 2024 has been marked as the Year of the Dragon, according to the Chinese zodiac, which features a 12-year cycle, with each year represented by a specific animal.
The event was attended by several senior South African government officials and diplomats including Minister of Tourism Patricia de Lille, South Africa’s Ambassador to China, Siyabonga Cwele; and the new Consulate-General of China in Joburg Pan Qingjiang.
Addressing hundreds of attendees at the glitzy event punctuated by breathtaking performances and cultural performances, Ambassador of China to South Africa Chen Xiaodong said Pretoria-Beijing ties will be bolstered in the new era.
“This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It is a key year in the implementation of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan. In the new era, China will continue to stride forward through a Chinese path to modernisation,” said Chen.
“This year also marks the beginning of the Golden Era of China-South Africa relations. China will host a new Forum on China-Africa Cooperation meeting. These occasions bring new opportunities for China-South Africa relations and China-Africa cooperation,” he said.
“In the coming new year, we look forward to working with the South African side to better implement our two presidents’ important consensus, strengthen dialogue, exchanges and cooperation, and actively build stronger partnerships.”
The senior Chinese diplomat said in the past year, his Chinese compatriots based in South China worked tirelessly to supported China's national advancement and reunification, carrying forward the nation’s fine traditional culture, and actively engaged in the two countries’ exchanges and cooperation in various fields to promote friendship.
“Many of us also participated in the reception of President Xi Jinping’s state visit to South Africa and made positive contributions to the success of the visit. We not only built a good life for ourselves in South Africa, but also made new contributions to China’s development and China-South Africa relations,” he said.
“On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to all of our fellow compatriots. Thank you for the dedication.”
China has for 15 years in a row been South Africa’s biggest trading partner.
“In 2023, our bilateral trade volume was US$55.6 billion,” said the ambassador.
“China-South Africa relations today have gone beyond the bilateral spheres and are carrying stronger strategic significance and global reach. Our relations have set a fine example for China-Africa and South-South cooperation.”
Looking back, Chen said 2023 was a year in which China forged ahead and made great achievements.
“Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee, with Comrade (President) Xi Jinping at its core, China made solid strides in building a modern socialist country in all respects and the Chinese economy enjoyed high-quality development,” he said.
“China’s GDP last year was over 126 trillion RMB, up by 5.2% year-on0year. This growth rate is the fastest among all major economies in the world and China contributes more to global growth than the US, Europe and Japan combined.”
The electric vehicles, lithium batteries and solar cells that China exported to the world last year are worth over 1 trillion RMB.
Chen said China also produced nearly one-fourth of the world’s grains, one-third of vehicles, over half of steel and nearly 60% of home appliances.