International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane rounds off her Beijing leg of her trip to the people’s Republic of China

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, H.E. Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, rounded off her visit to the Beijing leg of her ministerial two-city trip to the People’s Republic of China today, 26 February 2010 after having met the Vice President of the PRC, H.E. Mr Xi Jinping, who reaffirmed the commitments to the Republic of South Africa (RSA) that were made by PRC’s Foreign Affairs Minister, H.E. Mr Yang Jiechi in his earlier meeting with South Africa’s minister. Both the RSA and PRC expressed fraternal greetings and described their relationships as “good and personal” and are aimed at strengthening resolve to, and strategic cohesion on, affairs of international and regional cooperation.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane expressed the need to elevate the Strategic Partnership between the two countries to a much higher level through the conclusion of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement (CSPA) which has to be signed by both President Jacob G. Zuma and President Hu Jintao during the former’s state visit to China probably before the end of June 2010. The CSPA will strengthen, deepen and further refine both political and economic relations between the two countries. “It will be a culmination of the relationship between the two countries – which started when the PRC supported the ruling party, African National Congress (ANC), during its anti-apartheid struggle. Country to country diplomatic ties were formally established in 1998, and further strengthened in 2004 when the two countries decided to sign a Strategic Partnership – which eventually became materialised in 2006.”

The CSPA will give shape and effect to the Bi-National Commission which is chaired by Vice-Presidents from both the PRCS and RSA; the Partnership for Growth and Development which is being negotiated around four key issues of beneficiation at source, procurement, value-addition and partnership on transnational infrastructure development such as roads and ports.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane’s proposals, which were endorsed by the PRC’s Vice President, H.E. Mr Xi Jinping, and his Foreign Affairs Minister, H.E. Mr Yang Jiechi, emphasised that the CSPA will be signed at head of state level. “It will endeavour to make sense of how our relations with the PRC impact on, or contribute to, the five key priorities that the RSA government has indentified – and these are the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods; education; health; rural development, food security and land reform; and the fight against crime and corruption.

The RSA minister further opined that the PRC was not only the steadfast support of the anti-apartheid struggle, but it went further to become South Africa’s major development partner after its freedom was gained. Today, PRC is SA’s biggest trading partner. “We can say with pride that we have made good of our strategic partnership with China. Yes, we can say we have made good of our strategic partnership with China in terms of development of political, cultural and economic relations and even in the area of people-to-people contact.”

For the PRC, President Zuma’s envisaged state visit “will yield bountiful fruits”. It will provide both leaders with the opportunity to take stock of progress made by both countries arising from their long-standing relationship.

President Zuma’s official visit follows his visit to the PRC as an ANC president before SA’s national and provincial elections that installed him as a president in 2009.

Both countries agreed to keep open lines of minute-by-minute ministerial and ambassadorial communication regarding the envisaged state visit to ensure its impeccable success, and also on other matters that affect issues of mutual interests regarding international and regional affairs.

The PRC endorsed South Africa’s candidature of RSA for the UNSC’s seat as a non-permanent member. “We’re looking forward to supporting and working with RSA in the UNSC,” asserted Vice President Jinping.

Underlining how much both countries need each other, PRC also requested RSA to endorse its candidature for the UNESCO seat.

Also within the context of the CPSA, the countries both agreed on embarking on a process that will establish joint transnational projects across the African continent, South Africa being the anchor as key stakeholders such as the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) will be approached to provide development finance in partnership with the African Development Bank. We will develop South Africa position as Africa’s hub for beneficiation as our manufacturing competence is already far more advanced. 

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane rounded off her Beijing visit with an address at Westin Hotel, Beijing, to almost 130 academics at a conference organised by the Embassy of South Africa to the PRC in partnership with the Institute of West Asian and African Studies and Chinese Society of Asian and African Studies re-emphasising the issues discussed with the Vice President and her foreign counterpart.

The minister will then proceed to Shanghai where she is to assess South Africa’s preparedness for the six month-long Shanghai World Expo that will start on 1 may 2010. 

For more information please do not hesitate to contact the Chief Director for Public Diplomacy, Mr. Saul Kgomotso Molobi, on 082 940 1647 or e-mail him at molobisk@foreign.gov.za

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
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