Statement at the Official Launch of
the Binational Commission in China
Beijing, 10 December 2001
Your Excellency, President Jiang Zemin
Ministers of the People's Republic of China
Government ministers and officials from South Africa
Members of the Business Delegations
Ladies and Gentlemen:
We have crossed the long stretch of an ocean to be
here with you today and in so doing have retraced a
journey that must first have been taken by both our
ancestors more than a thousand years ago. Our memories
and our written histories tell us only of the recent
past, mainly of the twentieth century, but we recognise
that long before Europeans ever set foot in Africa,
a rich and prosperous trade existed between the two
continents of Africa and Asia.
Perhaps in many ways our meeting here in Beijing at
the very first gathering of the Binational Commission
is a renewal of that relationship first established
in ancient times and later re-established and forged
in the struggle for freedom from colonial rule and further
strengthened in the present period of our modernisation.
The road that South Africa has taken to her liberation
and the new democracy established in 1994 was as a result
not only of the efforts of the people of South Africa,
but also due to our brothers and sisters in the wider
world and in the People's Republic of China. You rightly
believed that the struggle of the South African people
was yours and accordingly adopted and fully supported
us without any hesitation.
President Zemin, you too travelled great distances
to be with us in April last year and I believe that
together as China and South Africa we shall walk even
greater distances in the future in our mutual quest
for the sustained development and prosperity.
It is in this context of firm commitment and enduring
friendship that we have come together to discuss matters
of mutual importance and to enhance our partnership
in various ways through common understanding of what
our priorities are, what is to be done and how implementation
is to take place.
Clearly, we have made a good start in 2000 with the
signing of the Pretoria Declaration, which, I believe,
should now stand as a blueprint for our bilateral relationship
and provide a basis for our multilateral discussions.
Our political relations can only go from strength to
strength. We welcome the strengthening of your relationship
with the African continent as outlined in the Beijing
Declaration and the Programme for China-Africa Co-operation
in Economic and Social Development after the Sino-African
Ministerial conference in Beijing last year. In our
view, much progress has already been made in the implementation
of some of the commitments coming out of this conference.
South Africa believes that China can play a crucial
role in the area of economic co-operation with Africa
and are therefore confident that China will give full
support to the New Partnership for Africa's Development
(NEPAD) and partner us in the realisation of the dreams
of African renewal and the overall economic recovery
of our continent. The consolidation of the New Partnership
and your constructive contribution in this regard will
clearly assist Africa on the road to socio-economic
Of importance, is the strengthening of our national
economic relationship and I am sure that during our
stay here we will explore ways and means of continuing
and increasing our investments in each other's economies
in a manner that improves our trade relations and ensures
greater volumes of imports and exports from both our
Since the early nineties bilateral trade has expanded
more that ten-fold to the extent that South Africa is
now China's largest trading partner in Africa. At the
same time, it is evident that there is room for improvement
in our trade relations. Already, we have identified
the need for closer co-operation in a number of areas
including mining, telecommunication and manufacturing.
Mr. President, I am pleased that on this state visit
we have also included a meeting of our respective business
delegations. Clearly, they will take advantage of this
occasion to strengthen links, explore further the opportunities
that exist and work out mechanisms to create even better
conditions for more profitable relationship on both
During our engagements we will continue the discussions
on the important areas of science, education and culture.
As we reach new and unforeseen levels of development
in an increasingly globalised and competitive international
environment, the new people of this new world, of China
and of South Africa, must build national and international
identities of who we are and at all times remain true
to the ideals of sincere friendship, peace and mutual
Together we should strengthen our collaboration in
working to improve the lives of the poor and underdeveloped
and ensure that the billions of our people who are suffering
also experience a better and prosperous life.
It is within this national and international context
that I am confident we shall work hard together for
a better world that shall overcome the divides between
rich and poor.
We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate
you on your well-deserved accession to the World Trade
Organisation and believe that you will play a major
role in this important body.
We visit China in the midst of winter cold and snow,
but we believe that through this necessary process of
working together, we shall cause the rays of the sun
to shine on our hearts and radiate on our faces because
of our success.
I thank you.