Media Statement

01 January 2023

South Africa and the People’s Republic of China commemorate 25 years of Diplomatic Relations

Today, 1 January 2023, marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China, which came into effect from 1 January 1998. Throughout the past 25 years, the two countries have deepened their wide-ranging bilateral relations, which have since been elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and underpinned by a new 10-Year Strategic Programmes of Cooperation (2020-2029).

Regular interaction between South Africa and China takes place at various official levels and include exchanges of State Visits and high-level engagements; cooperation across different Government Ministries; Parliament; business entities; and people-to-people connections. These engagements are a testimony to the great importance attached by both sides to the historic political and economic ties. South Africa and China enjoy vibrant economic relations and China is by far South Africa’s largest global trading partner. The bilateral trade grew exponentially over the years, increasing from less than R1 billion in 1998 to the current levels of R544 billion in 2021, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. South Africa is also China’s number one trading partner in Africa.

More importantly, the mutually beneficial relationship supports South Africa’s foreign policy objectives towards the achievement of its domestic development imperatives, as well as promotes the broader socio-economic development goals of the African continent. The collaboration goes beyond bilateral relations to also include regional and multilateral cooperation to advance the agenda of the Global South. This year, South Africa will be hosting the 15th BRICS Summit as the Chair, having taken over from China as Chair during 2022. Furthermore, the two countries remain committed to close cooperation and partnership within the context of the Forum on China – Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which drives joint continental development initiatives.

As part of the 25th anniversary of bilateral relations, Minister Pandor and the Foreign Minister of China have exchanged letters of congratulations to reaffirm the well-established relations. The two sides are keen to explore further areas of collaboration for the mutual benefit, economic growth, and prosperity of their respective nations. Furthermore, the two governments have planned several activities that will take place throughout the year in both South Africa and China, to celebrate this milestone.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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