It gives me great pleasure to pay my third state visit to the Republic of South Africa and attend the 10th BRICS Summit at the invitation of President Cyril Ramaphosa. I am full of expectations as I am about to set foot again on the beautiful land of South Africa, the Rainbow Nation standing at the convergence of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and home to unique and magnificent landscapes, industrious and enterprising people, and colourful and pluralistic cultures.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between our two countries, but the friendly interactions between our peoples go far beyond that. Our peoples forged a deep friendship during our common struggle against imperialism, colonialism and racism.
After the birth of a new South Africa, especially in the past 20 years of diplomatic relations, our two countries have supported and learned from each other in our respective exploration of a development path suited to national conditions.
This relationship has stood the test of time and a changing international environment. From a partnership to a strategic partnership, and then to a comprehensive strategic partnership, this relationship has made big strides and demonstrated a strong growth momentum in political trust, economic and trade co-operation, people-to-people exchanges and strategic co-ordination.
Over the past six years, our two countries have worked closely as co-chairs of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) to advance the comprehensive strategic and co-operative partnership between China and Africa.
Our bilateral ties have thus served as a model for China-Africa relations, for South-South co-operation, and for unity and co-operation among emerging market countries, and offered valuable experience for building an even stronger community with a shared future between China and Africa and a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win co-operation.
We enjoy close high-level exchanges and fruitful practical co-operation across the board.
Our leaders have, through frequent mutual visits, meetings and other exchanges, provided top-level and strategic guidance for the bilateral ties.
China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for nine years in a row, and South Africa has become China’s largest trading partner in Africa.
Two-way trade totalled $39.17billion (R525bn) in 2017, more than 20 times the figure at the start of our diplomatic engagement. Preliminary statistics show that China’s direct investment in South Africa has grown by more than 80 times and exceeded $10.2bn in cumulative terms, creating tens of thousands of jobs for local communities and giving a strong boost to the South African economy.
Many Chinese companies are running successful businesses in South Africa, which is a full testament to our mutually beneficial relationship for common development. South African companies, for their part, are also making great success in China.
In recent years, measures such as hosting the Year of China/South Africa and launching the High-Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism have brought our two nations even closer with greater mutual understanding and friendship.
We have seen expanding co-operation in such areas as education, culture, science and technology, and health, and growing exchanges between our youths and women.
South Africa has attracted more Chinese tourists, established sister relations with more Chinese provinces and cities, and opened more Confucius Institutes and classrooms than any other sub-Saharan country.
China has become an increasingly popular destination for South African students and tourists. Traditional Chinese medicine companies are actively exploring the South African market, introducing acupuncture, cupping and other traditional Chinese therapies to the South African people as a new option to treat illnesses and keep fit.
Chinese volunteers have mobilised Chinese companies and Chinese communities in South Africa to partner with local animal conservation organisations and make their contribution to wildlife protection in Africa.
These are all powerful examples of China-South Africa and China-Africa friendship.
South Africa is now on a new journey of national development. President Ramaphosa has put forth the goals of growing the economy, creating jobs, improving people’s lives and advancing social transformation, thereby ushering South Africa into a new era of hope and confidence.
China looks forward to working with South Africa to build on the momentum of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties and strive for faster and greater progress in our comprehensive strategic partnership.
- We must steadily elevate our political mutual trust to new levels. We need to maintain high-level exchanges, strengthen inter-party cooperation and governance experience sharing, continue to provide each other with mutual understanding and support on issues bearing on our respective core interests and major concerns, and stay for ever as each other’s reliable good friend, good brother and good partner.
I look forward to receiving President Ramaphosa in Beijing in September and co-chairing with him the FOCAC Beijing Summit.
- We must strive for new outcomes in our practical co-operation. We need to promote complementarity between our development strategies, and make full use of bilateral mechanisms, FOCAC, the Belt and Road Initiative, BRICS co-operation, and other platforms to deepen co-operation in key areas such as industries, production capacity, resources and energy, infrastructure, finance, tourism, and digital economy and deliver more benefits to our peoples.
- We must increase communication to add new impetus to our people-to-people exchanges. We need to leverage the role of the High-Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism in enhancing communication between our peoples, expand cooperation in education, culture, science and technology, health, and sports, and promote exchanges between youths, women, think tanks and media outlets.
Such measures will bring greater public support for China-South Africa friendship, and make our peoples be more closely connected.
- We must strengthen collaboration and scale new heights in our strategic co-ordination. We need to support each other in hosting the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit and the 10th BRICS Summit, step up co-ordination and co-operation within multilateral frameworks including the UN, the G20 and BRICS, and promote the reform of the global governance system in a joint effort to advance the fundamental interests of African and other developing countries, to build a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind, and to contribute wisdom and proposals to solving the world’s most pressing issues.
This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the BRICS Summit. Ten years on, BRICS co-operation has achieved remarkable development and gained an ever-growing influence.
This year’s summit will be the first one held in the second “Golden Decade” of BRICS co-operation. China will go all out to support South Africa in hosting this event.
Under the theme of “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, we will deepen BRICS strategic partnership, enhance BRICS solidarity and co-operation, and facilitate the inter-connected development of BRICS countries.
We are confident that this summit will usher in an even brighter future for BRICS co-operation.
This year celebrates yet another important event, the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela, the inaugural president of the new South Africa.
To quote Mr Mandela: “The African rebirth is now more than an idea. Its seeds are being sown in the regional communities we are busy building and in the continent as a whole.”
With unremitting efforts, South Africa and the rest of the African continent gained a new life in the last century.
I am confident that this century will witness the rejuvenation of South Africa and that of the whole African continent.
Let us work together for a new era of China-South Africa friendship.
* Xi Jinping is the President of the People’s Republic of China
The Sunday Independent