JOHANNESBURG, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The South Africa-China People's Friendship Association (SACPFA) was officially launched in Johannesburg on Thursday, turning a brand new page in the history of non-governmental diplomacy between the two countries.
SACPFA President Manne Dipico said at the founding ceremony that the SACPFA is the only people's association designed to promote friendship between South Africa and China.
"There has never been such a broad platform for exchange and cooperation between the peoples of both countries," he said. "This not only provides a higher standard of development and a higher expertise in business and economic cooperation but also expands cultural development and exchange by building a professional platform and offering stronger support."
Cao Xingzhi, executive president of SACPFA, said the SACPFA is committed to the establishment of an all-round, multi-level, wide- ranging and professional platform to promote friendly exchange and cooperation among the peoples of both countries.
For instance, he said, the SACPFA will actively promote bilateral exchanges between local governments in both countries; launch a certain number of commercial and scientific projects to promote exchange and cooperation among enterprises and industries in areas such as economy, business, science, and technology; expand communication and exchange in the cultural area and enhance cooperation with other friendly organizations and social groups.
The SACPFA's current task is to set up an official site, to improve the organizational structure, to expand membership so as to gradually improve the SACPFA's service and management capabilities.
The SACPFA's members are all prominent people with expertise in a wide range of fields and industries. Those members include officials, scholars, lawyers, businessmen, athletes, actors, media people, doctors, veterans, according to Cao.
This will ensure a high-level platform for non-governmental diplomacy between the peoples of South Africa and China, he said.
Since South Africa and China established diplomatic relations in 1998, bilateral cooperation between the two countries has achieved an unprecedented success. As comprehensive strategic partners, South Africa and China will put more emphasis on exchange and cooperation at the cultural level in the future, Cao said.
Social forces are the driving force behind the development of culture and are also the reason for this historic moment, he added.
The launch of the SACPFA is an important part of a series of celebrations marking the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Africa and China.
It also came days before the 5th BRICS summit scheduled for Durban on March 26-27.
On March 26, the SACPFA will sign a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. The two associations will declare their commitment to working together for comprehensive cooperation in the areas of economy, culture, health and education so as to actively further the development of the peoples' friendship between the two countries, according to Cao.