Address at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 11 December 2001

Vice-Minister of Education, Madame Wei Yu,
President of the University, Professor Wang Dazhong,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

First of all, let me thank you for the opportunity to be here at Tsinghua University. I bring you fraternal greetings from the South African government and the people of our country.

From the two extreme locations on our respective continents, we meet here today, faced with a common challenge.

The world and all of us, are defined by the divide between rich and poor, the haves and the haves-not, the developed and the underdeveloped.

This contradiction has, for hundreds of years, been a perennial cause of conflicts, instabilities, wars and subjugation of one human being by another.

It constitutes the difference between the countries of the North and those of the South.

As we know, the countries of the North are mainly rich, developed and prosperous while those of the South are poor and underdeveloped, with elements of the South found in the North and vice versa.

Today, the processes of globalisation, in particular the information and communication technology revolution, have brought countries and peoples closer together in such a manner that we are able to speak about the world as a global village.

Accordingly, members of this global village have an abiding duty and responsibility to ensure that the river between the two sides of the common village, no longer acts as a buffer to the development and prosperity of one component part of the whole homeland.

Clearly, countries of the North and those of the South have an inalienable responsibility to work together for the development and prosperity of the poor and underdeveloped.

Together with China, we are commonly defined by our situation as belonging to the South. This very circumstance suggests that we have every reason to act together to change our conditions for the better.

We have come to China to strengthen our relations with the government and people of this nation, within the context of South-South cooperation, so that both of us can use the opportunities presented by the interdependence of nations and regions, to assist the processes of moving our world away from a situation where there are islands of prosperity in a sea of poverty.

In this regard, the question arises: What are the challenges that both our countries, our regions and the whole world face as we try to overcome the dichotomy that characterises our common world?

I think it is fitting, in answering this question, to take a moment to reflect on the history of our engagement, going back many centuries.

For hundreds, if not thousands of years, seafarers from South West Asia ventured further and further from the mainland in long canoes or rafts fitted with sails, outriggers and rudders and control devices that made them more seaworthy and manoeuvrable, and in ocean-going vessels with complex steering systems and with a seamanship that was so remarkable that it is said they were even able to cross the six-thousand mile expanse of the Indian Ocean to settle in Madagascar off the East African coast.

In her book, When China Ruled the Seas, Louise Levathes evokes the city of Chang'an in the 7th century in the following manner:

"Chang'an emerged in the seventh century as the greatest city in the world... a mighty metropolis covering thirty square miles in the heart of the Yellow River valley in north China with more than two million taxable residents. ... (It had) two enormous markets - an Eastern market that sold goods from within the borders of the Tang Empire and a western market that specialized in exotic goods from India, Persia, southeast Asia, and beyond, to the distant shores of Africa... one could smell sandalwood from India or Java... frankincense from Somalia, as well as myrrh, used to treat women who had suffered a miscarriage... there were Persian dates, saffron powder for perfume.... The cure for any ailment, from anywhere in the world, could be had for a price in the western market of Chang'an." (1994: 35)

It is clear from Levathes's description of the ancient Chinese relations with the world, that contact between China and Africa is not a recent phenomenon.

From the 9th Century A.D., there are descriptions of contact between Africa and China. During these contacts, which spanned hundreds of years, both the African continent and China were able to imprint lasting influences on each other, through trade, diplomacy and cultural exchanges.

As Admiral Chang Ho prepared to navigate to Africa in 1402, a Chinese cartographer who was clearly inspired by the frequent travels to our continent, drew the world's oldest map of Africa.

Many ancient Kingdoms on the African continent - in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa - had strong political and economic relations with various Asian countries, especially China.

These relations were based on equality, friendship, mutual respect and benefit. Hence the King of Malindi in Kenya was able to send a special envoy to the Chinese emperor with an important gift of a giraffe.

By the 1700 and 1800s, onwards, Western expeditions of plunder, slavery, wars of domination, colonial rule had become the lot of Africans. Thus, many among these Africans, ceased to remember a time when trade was a peaceful encounter between different peoples for common good, when Africans could exchange their wares for goods they desired, not forced to be the mere producers of raw materials for the exclusive benefit of others.

The new living conditions for Africans were characterised by political oppression, economic exploitation of both human and material resources of the continent, social and cultural degradation. These life conditions were to define the existence of every African, from the cradle to the grave, for close to 400 years.

However, as you know, the African people did not submit in a docile fashion to their inhuman humiliation. For hundreds of years they waged heroic struggles, winning some battles and losing others.

In the end, after many protracted wars and countless tragic and painful encounters that obliterated millions of indigenous people and displaced still more millions, many African countries gained their freedom during the course of the last century.

One of the important and positive consequences of the total freedom of our continent is that we are able to resume economic, social and political relations between our continents and countries, that were a constant feature of the lives of our ancestors many hundreds of years back.

Perhaps, in the true spirit of the King of Malindi we should, ourselves, be able to send a special envoy with an important gift of a giraffe.

We, ourselves, have arrived at this point in our history, of a free, democratic and independent South Africa, with the help of our brothers and sisters in China. Not only did the Chinese become valuable comrades during our fight for freedom, but, through your work on our continent, you have proved to be reliable partners in the quest for development of many independent African countries.

Since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between South Africa and the Peoples Republic of China on January 1, 1998, there has been a qualitative improvement in our engagements and collaboration.

These engagements have been further deepened by the important and frequent number of high level visits. We are indeed grateful that a number of leaders of both the Government and the Chinese Communist Party as well as top businesspeople have paid successful visits to South Africa. I am confident that we will continue to nurture and strengthen our close relations for the mutual benefit of both our peoples.

In this regard, a high point in the recent history of our countries was the visit of President Jiang Zemin in April 2000 during which the Pretoria Declaration was signed.

The Declaration confirmed the five principles of Sino-Africa relations namely:

Sincere friendship;
Equality and Sovereignty;
Common development on the basis of mutual benefit;
Increased consultation and co-operation in international affairs;
Co-operation on the establishment of a new international and political order.
I am sure we will all agree that these are the principles that should define relations, not just between China and Africa, but should in reality form the basis for global cooperation especially in the interaction between the developing and developed countries.

Clearly, we will be in a better position to create a humane society based on solidarity and respect once we have established sincere friendships between our people.

Humanity will be able to restore dignity and pride to those who have been abused and discriminated against because of their race, if our countries and peoples relate to one another on the basis of equality.

Indeed, we have a duty and responsibility to defeat poverty and underdevelopment, construct a better world and a new international and political order on the basis of equality, respect, honesty, solidarity, consultation and cooperation.

I am happy that between the peoples and leadership of China and South Africa there is total agreement about all of the above, and we are accordingly resolved steadfastly to pursue these principles. We are at one that we should act decisively to banish, permanently from our lives, a world characterised by economic marginalisation, social exclusion and political domination.

China is a leading nation among the developing countries and in the world. She occupies an important and critical position as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

Together with other developing countries, she is a central player in our efforts to create a world order that will make for peace, stability and security for all the citizens of the world. Accordingly, we speak with one voice, and without any hesitation, in our condemnation of all those who wrongly believe that terrorism is a means by which they can articulate their point of view. Acts of terror, as happened in America on September 11th this year, as well as in Kenya, Tanzania, the Philippines and many other countries over many years, constitute an affront against all humanity.

In China we have an invaluable partner as we strive for a world that will boldly and comprehensively deal with some of the fundamental sources of conflict today, in particular the socio-economic deprivation of billions of our brothers and sisters across the globe.

As part of this important global struggle for social equity and justice, we have in China, a trusted ally as we strive for the reform of the multilateral organisations, such as the United Nations, World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In this context, the recent accession of China to the World Trade Organisation marks the achievement of an important milestone for this organisation and its member states.

We trust that we will co-operate with the Chinese government to accelerate the process towards a non-discriminatory and equitable trading system that will be a vehicle for sustainable development for the benefit of the poor people of the world.

Furthermore, we have to ensure that there is a speedy implementation of the agreements between the African continent and China as contained in the Beijing Declaration and the Programme for China-Africa Co-operation in Economic and Social Development following the October 2000 Sino-African Ministerial Conference in Beijing.

This initiative, as outlined in the two documents, is part of the South-South cooperation in the process of dealing with the principal contradiction that has defined the majority of the people in the world as poor and underdeveloped. It is also important in that it deals with the specific challenges facing China and Africa, committing both parties to co-operation and mutual support.

As you may be aware, the people and leadership of the African continent have embarked on a far-reaching programme of political, economic and social development that seeks to pull the entire continent out of the quagmire of poverty, underdevelopment and marginalisation.

This developmental programme is predicated on two inseparable and mutually reinforcing processes: the first is the New Partnership for Africa's Development which is a programme aimed at radically changing the negative political, social and economic conditions on the continent, and, creating an irreversible process that ensures comprehensive and integrated development affecting all aspects of life in every part of the African continent.

In addition, from next year the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) will be transformed into a new body, the African Union (AU), whose structures and functions must entrench peace, stability, democracy, justice and create favourable conditions for economic growth and development and the eradication of poverty.

We envision a new Africa with new Africans who have decided to work hard to improve their own standards of living, who take collective and individual ownership of their destiny, who refuse to be victims of circumstance and who claim the 21st century as the century of African prosperity and African development.

Together, we are walking with determination and commitment along the path of a renaissance that will give birth to Africans that have reclaimed their pride and dignity; men and women who will occupy their pride of place, as equals, alongside other human beings.

The African Union emerges within the context of increased global political, social and economic interdependence, which, without doubt, constitutes the reality of modern co-existence among countries and regions.

On this basis, the African Union seeks to consolidate the existing unity among the different African states and accelerate processes towards Regional and Continental integration, which is one of the basic conditions for our all-round development.

Clearly, this Regional and Continental integration will not only be between states, important as this is, rather, it will also be a process towards greater unity among the masses of the African people.

These masses, in their various stations - as businesspeople, women, youth, intelligentsia, workers and activists of different formations - must themselves be active agents for economic growth, for the promotion of peace, security and stability, the entrenchment of democracy, and the encouragement of popular participation in all aspects of development.

As I have indicated earlier, the New Partnership for Africa's Development is a programme that must accelerate the renewal of the African continent.

This partnership is premised on the obvious fact that Africa has in abundance, natural resources that must be used to end poverty and underdevelopment. Africa has a wealth of agricultural, mineral and aquatic raw materials that must now be used to develop her own economies and people.

Accordingly, the New Partnership will put in motion programmes that will ensure that Africans acquire the necessary skills and expertise so as to be in a better position to add value to these raw materials through beneficiation. In this way, the continent should increasingly become an exporter of manufactured goods rather than just raw materials.

Part of the challenge to the leadership and the entire people of Africa is to mobilise and utilise the vast and valuable resources to fight poverty and disease. In conjunction with partners such as China, we will ensure that the New Partnership brings about the upliftment of the African people, in a relationship based on shared responsibility and mutual interest.

The New Partnership has identified various other priority areas of development.

Among others, the Market Access Initiative seeks to expedite diversified market access for African exports to developed countries. Strategic areas of intervention include: the identification of key areas in export production, overcoming supply-side impediments and the diversification of production and exports, taking advantage of potential areas of comparative advantage.

In addition, the Human Resources Development Initiative looks at human development in a comprehensive way through the reduction of poverty, the improvement in health and education so that African people gain the necessary skills and knowledge to ensure their well-being and improve the quality of their lives.

The Initiative includes a multi-pronged strategy to combat communicable diseases especially TB, Malaria and AIDS.

The Infrastructure Initiative has set priorities to accelerate the process of modernisation and industrialisation of the continent that is essential to socio-economic development.

One of the most important priorities of this Initiative is in the area of information and communication technology. In this regard, we are putting plans in place to improve the ICT infrastructure, ensure that strong regulatory mechanisms exist and that there is a clear policy framework in all our countries.

Our intention is to develop a pool of ICT-proficient youth and students from which Africa can draw trainee ICT engineers, programmers and software developers and to promote community and user involvement in infrastructure construction, maintenance and management especially in poor urban and rural areas.

As part of this Initiative, science and technology platforms are intended to promote cross-border co-operation and connectivity by utilising knowledge currently available in centres of excellence on the African continent and to generate a critical mass of technology expertise in targeted areas that offer high growth potential, especially in biotechnology and geo-science.

Yesterday, we visited the HTR-10 Pebble bed nuclear and monitor reactor which is part of this university. We salute the exciting work being carried out in this important area by your scientists and engineers and Chinese industry as a whole.

In this regard, the South African and Chinese Governments are close to concluding a cooperation agreement on Peaceful Use of Atomic Energy. This agreement aims to build on existing cooperation in areas such as technology development for nuclear reactors. In the development of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor in South Africa, we are privileged to have with us two experts from the Institute for Nuclear Energy Research Institute. We are confident that we will extend this cooperation to other areas focused on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The New Partnership for Africa's Development includes a programme that seeks to ensure access to a safe and clean water supply and sanitation and an environmental initiative that will deal with such matters as desertification, water management and trans-frontier conservation.

Other initiatives focus on tourism, capital flows and the debt burden that has seen many poor countries sinking deeper and deeper into poverty as they use scarce resources to service and repay debts to developed and rich countries.

Clearly, the success of such an over-arching and all-embracing plan of action, as enunciated through the New Partnership for Africa's Development, cannot be accomplished by African governments alone.

The New Partnership calls for a new global relationship between Africa and the rest of the world, for workable engagements with both developing and developed countries as well as multilateral organisations.

It is in this context that we re-iterate our view that we see China as an important partner in the African development plan and we are confident that mutual benefits will flow from such a partnership.


I understand that part of the driving force behind China's economic and social development is the emphasis on science, technology, education as well as Human Resource Development.

President Jiang Zemin stated in his speech in the Great Hall of the People on July 1, 2001 that: "Science and technology are the primary productive forces and that rapid progress in science and technology has given a powerful shove ahead to the productive forces of the world and the economic and social development of humanity".

As I have already indicated, these are important areas in our New Partnership. Again, this is where institutions such as Tsinghua University could play a crucial role by collaborating with other institutions on the African continent and establish exchange programmes around research, innovations in high-technology, share information on technological development in production, the issue of beneficiation as well as value-adding in manufacturing and processing.

We inhabit an increasingly globalised world which, while fraught with problems of underdevelopment, has abundant possibilities for sustained development. It is therefore incumbent upon all of us to put our minds together to find solutions and exploit the potential that exists to advance not only ourselves, but all the developing countries of the world.

We envisage a world order where we have substantially narrowed the gap between rich and poor. We must create a world where the benefits of the current global economic revolution are enjoyed by all the citizens of the globe.

To this end, the New Partnership for Africa's Development states that:

"What is needed is a commitment on the part of governments, the private sector and other institutions of civil society, to the genuine integration of all nations into the global economy and the body politic. This requires the recognition of global interdependence in respect of production and demand, the environmental base that sustains the planet, cross-border migration, a global financial architecture that rewards good socio-economic management, and global governance that recognises partnerships among all peoples."

We know that you share this vision with us; a vision of a global community of equals and of a just world order, where we all travel the seas of the world as one human family in the long canoes and rafts fitted with sails, outriggers, rudders and control devices of the 21st century.

These modern canoes and rafts should serve and promote neither empires, nor dynasties, nor colonies, but a far greater and collective humanising effort of the peoples of the world for enduring peace, prosperity and sustained development.

The African continent is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with China and walk side by side with her to a world where there is a better life for all of humanity and where we shall have overcome the principal contradiction of our world, of the division between rich and poor.

The resources to achieve this objective exist in the world economy and society. What remains to be done is that we act together boldly, driven both by a sense of human solidarity and the recognition of the fact that it not possible for the few to prosper while the many languish in conditions of sustained deprivation.

I am certain that as we act together with this great nation, we will demonstrate that success is both necessary and possible.

I thank you.

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