Durban - The Chinese consul-general in Durban, Fei Mingxing, has hailed late King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu during an event celebrating 25 years of diplomatic relations as well as ringing in the Chinese New Year.
Saluting those who had contributed to establishing and growing the relations, Fei said: “As a Chinese saying goes, ‘We should’t forget those who dug the well when we drink the water’.'”
Addressing guests who included local Chinese as well as dignitaries such as Zulu Queen Mother Nompumelelo Mchiza of Enyokeni, former Agriculture MEC Themba Mthembu and IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa, the consulate-general said trade between China and South Africa had grown from $1.4 billion to $56.7bn in the 25 years since 1998.
“China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years and South Africa has become China’s largest trading partner in Africa for 13 consecutive years. China’s cumulative investment in South Africa has exceeded $25bn, creating more than 400 000 local jobs,” said Fei.
The celebrations at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC in Durban on Friday were part of festivities held across the globe to ring in the Chinese lunar new year. The Chinese 2023, which begins today (January 22), is known as the “Year of the Rabbit”.
The celebrations, at a scale last seen three years ago due to Covid-19, mark the globally significant relaxation of lockdown regulations for the world’s most populous country and the second-biggest economy after the US, which experts say augurs well for the global economy.
China’s move away from its strict “Zero Covid” approach to “Class B” regulations also came at a good time for Durban, the hosts of the 2023 World Table Tennis Championships.
This year South Africa will host the Brics (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) bloc’s summit as chair.
The “world cup” of table tennis will be held at the ICC in May. It will be the first time it comes to South Africa and it will be coming back to the continent for the first time since Egypt played hosts in 1939.