In December last year, the UN adopted a resolution designating the Chinese lunar new year as a UN holiday. The Chinese new year is officially a new year for the whole world. As we embrace the Year of the Dragon, I would like to extend my most sincere wishes to all South African friends and all members of the Chinese community.
2023 was a year of great achievements made with determined efforts for China in the new era.
Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade 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. China’s gross domestic product last year was more than 126 trillion RMB, up by 5.2% year on year.
The growth rate is one of the fastest among all major economies in the world. The electric vehicles, lithium batteries and solar cells that China exported to the world last year are worth more than a trillion RMB. China produced nearly a fourth of the world’s grains, a third of vehicles, over half of steel and nearly 60% of home appliances.
China’s science and technological innovation has been burgeoning. The C919 large passenger airliner entered commercial service. The Chinese-built large cruise ship completed its trial voyage. The Shenzhou spaceships are continuing their missions in space and the Jiuzhang 3.0 quantum computer prototype again broke the world record.
Last year was a year of solid strides and multiple highlights for China’s diplomacy. President Xi was personally guiding the planning and execution of major diplomatic actions. He chaired two home-ground events, attended three multilateral summits, made four important overseas visits and held more than 100 meetings and phone calls.
Chinese diplomacy made new contributions to maintaining world peace and promoting common development. Solid progress has been made in building a community with a shared future for mankind,
The Belt and Road Initiative co-operation was taken to a new stage of high-quality development and the BRICS mechanism achieved a historic expansion. China’s major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era has entered a new stage where much more can be accomplished.
That will create a more favourable environment for building a great modern socialist country and advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, as well as making new contributions to maintaining world peace and promoting common development.
2023 was a year of historic development and fruitful results for China-South Africa relations.
Together, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of China-South Africa diplomatic relations. President Xi paid a fourth successful state visit to South Africa. He and President Cyril Ramaphosa ushered our relations into the Golden Era.
The two sides started a new chapter of jointly building a high-level China-South Africa community with a shared future. The comrades-plus-brothers special bond between China and South Africa is getting stronger. The two sides enjoy ever deeper co-operation in economy, trade, investment, culture, tourism and education, as well as between localities and on the international stage. China has for 15 years in a row, been South Africa’s biggest trading partner.
In 2023, our bilateral trade volume was $55.6 billion (R1 trillion). 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 co-operation.
2023 was also a year of pioneering endeavors for all our Chinese compatriots in South Africa.
Together,, we firmly supported China’s national advancement and reunification, carried forward our fine traditional culture, and actively engaged in the two sides’ exchanges and co-operation in various fields to promote friendship. Everyone played important roles as a bridge and bond between the two countries.
Many of us also participated in the reception of President Xi’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.
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.
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. The occasions bring new opportunities for China-South Africa and China-Africa relations.
In the new year, we look forward to working with the South African side to better implement our two presidents’ important consensus, strengthen dialogue, exchanges and co-operation, and actively build stronger partnerships. We look forward to jointly building a high-level China-South Africa community with a shared future, and making greater contributions to promoting world peace, stability and development.
In the new year, the Chinese Embassy and Consulates General in South Africa will continue to uphold a people-centred approach and advance our diplomacy for the people. We will work hard to deliver in consular services, firmly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens, enterprises and all Chinese compatriots in South Africa, and make unremitting efforts to enhance the sense of achievement, happiness and security for all of us.
We are about to usher in the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese lunar calendar. In traditional Chinese culture, the dragon symbolises strength, wisdom and good fortune. I wish prosperity of our two countries, happiness of all our people, everlasting and ever stronger friendship between us, and a most Happy Chinese New Year and good luck for all!
Chen Xiaodong, ambassador of China to South Africa