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Speech at the Luncheon Reception for the 10th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between China and South Africa

By H.E. Mr. Zhong Jianhua, Ambassador of China

(March 17, 2008)

Your Excellency, Minister in the Presidency, Dr. Essop Pahad,

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen, friends,

Today, we are gathering here, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between China and South Africa. In retrospect, the two peoples have supported and aided each other at all times, and as a result of this, profound friendship has been nurtured between our two peoples. The Chinese people has firmly supported the South African people in their anti-Apartheid struggle, and showed deep admiration for their undertaking of reconciliation and promotion of African Renaissance.

January 1st, 1998 is a date deserved to be memorized in the history of exchanges between our two countries. On that very day, China and South Africa formally established diplomatic relations. During the past 10 years, thanks to the attention and endeavor by the leaders of both countries, bilateral relations witnessed all-round and in-depth development. China-South African relationship has become one of the most important bilateral relations between China and African countries as well as that between China and major developing countries.

During the past 10 years, political trust between our two countries has been continuously strengthened, and the level of exchanges has been steadily enhanced. In 2000, upon the proposal of His Excellency, President Mbeki, China and South Africa established a Partnership, which was upgraded to a Strategic Partnership of Equality, Mutual-benefit and Common Development in 2004. A Bi-National Commission (BNC) has been set up and three plenary meetings have been convened since then. Under this framework, five Sub-Commissions have been established, namely in the fields of Foreign Affairs, Economic and Trade, Defense, Science and Technology and Education.

During the past 10 years, high-level visits have been conducted frequently and areas of cooperation between our two countries have been greatly broadened. President Mandela and President Jiang Zemin exchanged state visits at the beginning of the diplomatic ties. In the last two years, Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao paid important visits to South Africa while President Mbeki and Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka successfully visited China. The two Foreign Ministers materialized their exchange of visit within one year. Under joint efforts and personal endeavor by the leaders of both countries, cooperation areas have been extended continuously. More than 50 agreements have been signed, covering fields of trade, culture, education, science and technology, health, communication and tourism. In the meantime, vibrant exchanges in civil, cultural, academic and media spheres have also contributed to the mutual understanding of the two peoples.

During the past 10 years, China and South Africa enjoyed rapid growth in trade and economic cooperation, which benefited the two peoples. In 2007, bilateral trade volume registered a total of 14.04 billion US Dollars, which is eight time's larger compared with year of 1998. Chinese imports from South Africa reached 6.61 billion US Dollar, which is a 61.9% increase compared with that in 2006. Enterprises from both countries have manifested strong will of cooperation, and investment has been enlarged all along. Last year, the ICBC invested 5.46 billion US Dollars in the Standard Bank, which became the largest ever investment from China to Africa. Other enterprises like SinoSteel, JIPSCO and Hisense have continued expanding their investment in South Africa. At the beginning of this year, SinoSteel added a further 440 million US Dollars to its investment here. All above is a clear evidence of confidence the Chinese side shows to the development of South Africa. From the South African side, enterprises like AngloAmerican, Sasol, SABMillers and MIH have operated in China for a long time and made investments of great importance. Furthermore, the Chinese side has actively supported ASGISA and JIPSA of South Africa, and provided assistance in the aspects of human resources training, poverty reduction and housing. Currently, the two countries are in a concerted effort in building a Partnership for Growth and Development.

During the past 10 years, the two countries have conducted close consultation in the international arena and pushed forward the South-South cooperation. In recent years, China and South Africa have supported and cooperated with each other on the multilateral platforms such as UN Security Council, WTO, G8+5 and G20, with the aim of safeguarding the common interests of African and developing nations. The two countries have conducted close consultation on issues like climate change, African development and other major international and regional issues. The two Foreign Ministries have established a Strategic Dialogue Mechanism under which both sides could exchange views on major international and regional issues on a regular basis. We believe that close cooperation between China and South Africa in international affairs would be in the interest of developing countries and conducive to world peace and stability.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests,

The China-South African relations have gone through a fruitful 10 years. In commemorating this glorious period, Presidents and Foreign Ministers of our two countries exchanged their messages of congratulation on January 1st this year. Chinese Foreign Minister paid a successful visit to South Africa in early January. The Chinese Post authority also issued a special commemorative envelope. The two sides are planning to hold more celebrations for this event. In a few days, Chinese essential antiques including the famous Terra-Cotta Warriors will be on exhibition in Pretoria. A seminar on China-South African and China-African relations is also under planning.

We are glad to see that South African leaders and various government departments have attached great importance to this celebration. President Mbeki specially mentioned 10th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa during this year's state-of-nation address and expressed his belief for further development of the strategic partnership between our two countries. Next month, a series of celebrating activities under the theme of South African Week will be held by the South African side in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong of China. Her Excellency Minister Dlamini-Zuma and some other Honorable ministers and senior officials will visit China to attend these activities. As part of the program, South African Fashion Show and Film Festival will stage in China, which we believe will receive warm welcome from Chinese audience and achieve full success. We also hope that South African friends can visit and have a personal experience of China, especially during the event of Olympics Games in Beijing this August. We firmly believe that this event will provide opportunities for the people around world including South Africans to obtain a better understanding of China, and thus lay a solid base for further developing the China-South African relations.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests,

The sustained development of strategic partnership between China and South Africa would not only benefit the two peoples, but also contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world. China will, as it has done before, continue to strengthen political trust, deepen mutual beneficial cooperation, promote civil exchanges and enhance multilateral coordination with South Africa. I am fully convinced that with concerted efforts by both sides, friendly cooperation between China and South Africa will achieve further development, so as to make significant contribution to the building of a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity!

Thank you.

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