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Speech at the Farewell Reception by H.E. Mr. Liu Guijin, the Outgoing Chinese Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa

2007/03/28

March 26, 2007

Honorable Minister Ronald Kasrils and Mrs. Eleanor Kasrils,

Honorable Former Speaker of the National Parliament Dr. Frene Ginwala,

Respected Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Ambassador Abdulla A. Alzubeidi,

Ambassadors and High Commissioners,

Representatives of Chinese Communities, Companies and Agencies,

Distinguished guests,

Dear Friends,

Ladies and Gentleman

As my colleague just indicated, I have been serving here in South Africa as the ambassador of my country for 6 years. In Chinese Culture, there are certain numbers which are supposed to carry auspicious meaning and "6" is one of them. The number "6" always brings to mind luckiness, smoothness and success. I have been ambassador representing my great country here for 6 years. I celebrated my 60th birthday here. Today happens to be March 26th. And 6 days later I am going to depart from this beautiful rainbow nation.

Indeed, the past 6 years have witnessed smooth and successful developments of our bilateral relations between China and South Africa. Let me just outline a few figures. 6 years ago, the trade volume between China and South Africa was barely 2 billion U.S. dollars. By the end of 2006, it rose to almost 10 billion U.S. dollars. Mutual investment from China to S.A. and from S.A. to China also increased almost four times. The volume of China's contracted investment here was barely 200 million U.S. dollars in 2000 and by the end of 2006 this figure reached more than 1 billion U.S. dollars, with half of it comes from parastatals and another half comes from private sectors including investment in the stock exchanges.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties on January 1, 1998, Sino-South African bilateral relations have achieved an all-round and rapid development. Mutual trust has been steadily enhanced along with frequent exchanges of high-level visits. During my 6-year tenure here as the ambassador, I have received 9 senior Chinese leaders visiting South Africa. The most recent one was President Hu Jintao's state visit here. From the South African side, President Thabo Mbeki paid state visit to China twice, and the Vice President, the Speaker of the National Parliament, the Chairperson of National Council of Provinces, and almost each and every Cabinet ministers all visited China. We have established the Bi-National Commission (BNC). We are developing and deepening a Strategic Partnership. We enjoy fruitful cooperation in all areas including economy and trade, science and technology, and culture. Our cooperation on regional and international issues has also been intensified.

In a word, substantial progresses and achievements have been made in our bilateral relationship during the past 6 years. Without the corrective foreign policy towards each other on both sides, without your contribution and help, I know all these can not be achieved easily. For this reason, here I wish to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of you. Thank you so much.

We are happy to have Former Speaker Dr. Ginwala here with us today. Dr. Ginwala is one of the South African leaders who have met with most of the top Chinese leaders. She contributed a lot to the normalization of the diplomatic relations between our two countries years before and has since always been a staunch supporter of this relationship. It was her who found a map entitled the Great Ming Dynasty Amalgamated Map drawn by Chinese over 600 hundred years ago in a book. In that ancient map, the Chinese navigators already knew the whereabouts of Africa. It even drew an accurate outline of South Africa and the Africa Continent. That map was part of the Parliament Millennium Project which is still there on the second floor of the Parliament building. The indication is that the Chinese came here well before some others. So, China's presence in Africa is not something new. We cherish time-honored traditional relations with Africa.

I met Minister Kasrils within the first week after assuming my post here as the ambassador 6 years ago. As a matter of fact, he was the first South African Cabinet minister who invited me for a dinner and had a wonderful discussion on several issues. His portfolio at that time was dealing with water affairs and forestry.

Distinguished guests, dear friends,

I know this is not the occasion for me to go long on our bilateral relationship. I am leaving South Africa with wonderful memories. I will forever remember the lovely people, the friendly government, the beautiful landscape, the blue sky and white clouds, the excellent weather and the famous wine. Though I am going to retire, I will still in one way or another continue to work for the relations between China and Africa, in particular between China and South Africa.

Now, I would like to raise my glass and propose a toast to the friendship between China and South Africa, to the well-being and health of everyone present here today!

Thank you for coming.

Cheers!

(Ambassador Liu made this speech at his farewell reception in Pretoria on March 26, 2007. He leaves South Africa on April the 2nd.)

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