By H.E. Chen Xiaodong, Chinese Ambassador to South Africa
October 1st marks the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It is a great pleasure to celebrate the occasion with our guests and friends from all walks of life both online and offline, in token of the friendship between China and South Africa.
Over the past 73 years, Chinese people of all ethnic groups, led by the Communist Party of China (CPC), have created two miracles of rapid economic development and long-term social stability.
Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the Party Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, has led the Chinese nation to win the battle against poverty, build a moderately prosperous society, and embark on a new journey towards the Second Centenary Goal.
This is a new journey to promote high-quality development with the people at the centre. We have efficiently coordinated the pandemic response and socio-economic development. Thus, to the greatest extent possible, we have both safeguarded the life and health of the people and ensured overall economic and social development.
In recent years, China’s GDP has been growing by 6.6 percent on an annual basis. This contributes over 30 percent to world economic growth. With a resilient economy, sufficient potential and wide room for manoeuvre, the fundamentals of China’s long- term economic growth have not changed, and will stay unchanged.
China’s total GDP has reached US$17.7 trillion, and our per capita GDP has increased to over US$12 500. We have built the world’s largest education, social security and health care systems. We have eliminated absolute poverty, which is unseen before in the human history. The Chinese people are marching forward on the path towards common prosperity.
This is the new journey featured by green development and innovation. China has been pushing ahead with its goal to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. China’s afforestation area accounts for about 1/4 of global planted forests. China’s installed capacity of wind power, photovoltaic power and other green power rank top in the world.
And so does the production and sales of China’s new energy vehicles. China’s global innovation index ranking has risen to the 12th place. The C919, a large domestic aircraft, is about to be delivered. The Shenzhou 14 crew has carried out two extra- vehicular activities. China’s strategic scientific and technological power is growing at a high speed.
This is a new journey of openness and shared benefits. China believes in sharing the fruits of development with the world. For years, China has been the world’s largest trading country, with the total value of goods import and export reaching US$3.85-trillion from January to August this year, up by 10.1% year-on-year.
We have facilitated the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) to build the world’s largest FTA. In the future, China will provide more development opportunities for all countries, including South Africa, with a shorter negative list, a better business environment and a larger market.
As President Xi Jinping pointed out at the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, “human society, like the natural world, has both sunny and rainy days in its development”. China believes in international cooperation to overcome difficulties together, and more importantly, China takes concrete actions to provide high-quality public goods to the world.
In the face of the world’s peace deficit, President Xi Jinping has put forward the Global Security Initiative (GSI), which advocates a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, follows the philosophy that humanity is an indivisible security community, and aims to create a new path to security that features dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance and win-win over zero-sum.
To bridge the development gap between the North and the South, President Xi Jinping has proposed the Global Development Initiative, and announced a series of programs such as the Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund, and increased input in the UN Peace and DevelopmentTrust Fund, boosting and complimenting the growth of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), to provide strong impetus for the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
These two important initiatives mentioned above have received positive support and warm response from more than 100 countries and many international organizations. Under the great leadership of President Xi Jinping and President Ramaphosa, and with the strong support of friends from all sectors, this year we have witnessed our two countries’ comprehensive strategic partnership developing with higher quality, in broader areas and at deeper levels.
With the two heads of state steering the course, our bilateral friendship has continued to deepen. This year, our two presidents have spoken on the phone and exchanged letters for several times. They have jointly attended the BRICS Summit and the High-level Dialogue on Global Development, and reached broad consensus on strengthening bilateral solidarity and cooperation.
The two sides signed the “Ten-Year Strategic Programme on Cooperation (2020-2029)”, which provides a comprehensive guidance to the development of China-South Africa relations under the new circumstances. Practical cooperation in economy, trade and investment is flourishing with fruitful results. From January to August this year, the two-way trade between China and South Africa increased by 9.2% year-on-year against headwinds, reaching US$38-billion.
China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years. Chinese enterprises have created 400 000 jobs in South Africa, and will create another 20,000 within three years.
The “Nine Programs” of FOCAC are being carried out in South Africa, including the feasibility study of the small harbour project, a pilot village for cooperation on poverty reduction, a project for comprehensive utilization of water resources in the Mzimvubu River, etc.
With close coordination at multilateral level, we have opened up new horizons of solidarity and cooperation. China and South Africa have always practiced true multilateralism, and safeguarded world fairness and justice.
Since China took over the rotating BRICS presidency this year, South Africa has granted us great support. And the two sides have worked side by side on multilateral occasions to safeguard the legitimate rights and common interests of developing countries.
China-South Africa cooperation sets pace for China-Africa relations and sets an example of solidarity and cooperation among developing countries.
China has taken firm countermeasures in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August, which has interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s sovereignty and stirred up tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
Here, I would like to thank in particular the South African government, political parties, parliament and friends from all walks of life for reaffirming their commitment, through various ways, to the one-China principle and their support for China’s legitimate stance and measures.
The year 2022 is of great significance in the political life of both China and South Africa. The CPC will convene its 20th National Congress on October 16 to draw a blueprint for the country’s future development. Not long ago, the Communist Party of South Africa successfully concluded its 15th National Congress. In December, the African National Congress will hold its 55th National Conference to draw a roadmap of reform for this century-old party of South Africa.
Next year, China and South Africa will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic relations, and South Africa will take over the BRICS presidency. The China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership is facing new historical opportunities. China is ready to work with South Africa to implement the important consensus of the two presidents, further enhance political mutual trust and increase mutual support.
We will expand cooperation in new energy, 5G, digital economy, e-commerce, smart cities and other new industries. China welcomes exports of more high-quality products from South Africa and will carry out the “Nine Programs” of FOCAC. We will further enhance exchanges and cooperation in the fields of culture, education, science and technology, health and military, so as to bring the two peoples closer together.
China will give full support to the work of South Africa as the BRICS Chair next year, and we will jointly safeguard multilateralism and international justice.
As an African proverb goes, only those who are traveling on thesame path are true friends. Standing at a new historical startingpoint, let us unite in good faith, seek common development, andjointly promote the building of China-South Africa and China-
Africa community with a shared future.