President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of China-South Africa diplomatic relations and the 10th BRICS Summit. On this important occasion, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China will pay his third state visit to South Africa.

President Xi Jinping is also going to visit the United Arab Emirates, Senegal, Rwanda and Mauritius.

This first overseas visit by President Xi in this year bears far-reaching significance as a major diplomatic engagement by China with the developing countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Over the past 10 years, BRICS co-operation has gained remarkable progress. In response to the global financial crisis and the slow world economic recovery, BRICS countries have emerged from adversities in unity and co-operation, and have demonstrated robust momentum and vitality. The economic aggregate of BRICS countries has increased by 179%, trade grown by 94%, contributing to more than half of world economic growth, making itself the main engine for world economic growth.

BRICS co-operation has brought concrete benefits to the peoples of not only BRICS countries, but also of the global community, offering the world a new choice towards development and prosperity.

Today, the international situation and global structure is going through unprecedented profound and complicated changes. A certain superpower, in its extreme pursuit of self-interest, has recklessly implemented unilateralism and protectionism, outrageously challenging world peace and justice, and undermining economic globalisation and the multilateral trading regime.

Against such grave challenges, stronger unity and closer co-operation of the BRICS countries with common voices for equity and justice and commitment to upholding the shared interests of the world community have become the common aspiration of the whole world.

This year’s BRICS Summit soon to be held in Joburg will continue the approach of “BRICS+” adopted by the BRICS Xiamen Summit of last year.

The theme “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution” responds to the trend of times and meets the expectation of the peoples. We are confident that the BRICS Joburg Summit will sketch out a new blueprint for the second “Golden Decade”, and will make new and greater contribution to promoting world peace and development, promoting a new type of international relations, and building a community with a shared future for mankind.

As an important participant, contributor and beneficiary of BRICS co-operation, South Africa has become an important bridge connecting BRICS to the African continent. From 2011 to 2016, South Africa’s trade with other BRICS partners increased by 54.7%.

The New Development Bank Africa Regional Centre established in Joburg last year boasts a huge potential in further supporting and promoting economic and social development of South Africa and other African countries.

The BRICS Joburg Summit is the first major diplomatic event hosted by President Cyril Ramaphosa since taking office. It is also the second BRICS Summit hosted by South Africa. The South African government and people from all sectors of society are looking forward to a successful summit to further enhance BRICS unity and co-operation. We are confident that this summit will be a historic event not only for the BRICS, but also for the whole of Africa.

As the most important co-operation partner with South Africa, over the past two decades, China’s relations with South Africa have grown from partnership to strategic partnership and to comprehensive strategic partnership.

China-SA relations now enjoy four advantages - political mutual trust, mutually beneficial economic co-operation, people-to-people friendship and co-ordination in international affairs. China-SA relations have become so strategic, all-round and win-win and are supported by four major co-operation platforms, namely Focac (Forum on China - Africa Co-operation), BRICS, Belt and Road initiative, and South-South Co-operation. China has for nine years remained South Africa’s largest trading partner, and one of the most important sources of foreign investment and tourists. By the end of last year, China had in accumulative terms invested over $25billion in South Africa, creating over 400000 local jobs.

Last year, China-South Africa bilateral trade reached $39.17bn, a 25-fold increase compared with the $1.5bn in 1998 at the beginning of our diplomatic ties.

I believe the visit by President Xi Jinping will chart a new course and make new plans for even stronger China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership and BRICS co-operation.