In the evening of April 29, 2014, the opening ceremony of the Year of South Africa in China was grandly launched at Beijing Century Theatre. Vice Minister of Culture Yang Zhijin, Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao, South African Ambassador to China Bheki W. J. Langa, Special Representative of South Africa government Ambassador Margiela, diplomatic envoys from African countries to China and representatives of relevant Chinese government departments, altogether 1500 plus guests, were present at the ceremony.
Vice Minister Yang Zhijin and Ambassador Langa respectively read out the letters of congratulation from Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma on the Year of South Africa in China and the Year of China in South Africa. Xi Jinping said in his letter that China and South Africa holding country year celebrations in each other's country are big events in people-to-people and cultural field between both countries and are significant for the bilateral friendly exchanges, and will certainly enhance the understanding and friendship between the two peoples and enrich the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership. Zuma said in his letter that South Africa-China relations have achieved leapfrog development in recent years. The country year celebration will promote the bilateral people-to-people exchanges to a higher level.
Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao and Ambassador Margiela made remarks respectively at the opening ceremony. Artistes from China and South Africa presented wonderful performances at the opening ceremony.
Celebrating the country years came from the important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and President Zuma in person during President Xi Jinping's state visit to South Africa in 2013. It is an all-dimensional exchange event in the people-to-people and cultural field between the two countries and a pioneering move in the history of exchanges between China and South Africa, as well as China and Africa. This year is the Year of South Africa in China, and South Africa will conduct a series of activities including cultural promotion, art shows, trade exhibitions and fairs, academic research and educational exchanges in China. The year of 2015 will be the Year of China in South Africa. China will then carry out a variety of introduction, promotion and exchange activities in South Africa.