Address at Tsinghua University, Beijing,
China, 11 December 2001
Vice-Minister of Education, Madame Wei Yu,
President of the University, Professor Wang Dazhong,
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
"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:
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
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
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
The Declaration confirmed the five principles of Sino-Africa
Equality and Sovereignty;
Common development on the basis of mutual benefit;
Increased consultation and co-operation in international
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Infrastructure Initiative has set priorities to
accelerate the process of modernisation and industrialisation
of the continent that is essential to socio-economic
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
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
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
"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
I thank you.