Closing Remarks by Deputy President Jacob Zuma, on the Occasion of the South Africa-People's Republic of China Binational Commission, Pretoria, 29 June 2004

Your Excellency Mr Vice President,
Honorable Ministers from the People's Republic of China and from South Africa,
Other senior representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have come to the end of a very fruitful session of the Second South Africa-People's Republic of China Binational Commission.

I would like to express our satisfaction with the progress and achievements we have made in this Session. This has assisted us in building further on the successes of the first Meeting of the BNC which took place in Beijing in December 2001.

In our fruitful deliberations, we exchanged ideas and reached broad consensus on a range of issues, and have actually elevated the strategic partnerships between the two countries to a new high.

It is clear that the growing number of exchanges, especially in areas of trade, culture, education, science and technology and international affairs, have deepened, strengthened and diversified our Partnership.

I am glad to note the specific achievements and progress reported by the Sectoral Committee Meetings, as well as meetings between South African Ministers and Deputy Ministers and their counterparts from the Chinese side. These augur well for growing co-operation and engagement.

As a relatively young nation, we regard education and human resource development as critical areas of co-operation and investment. In this regard, the establishment of a new Sectoral Committee on Education is a step in the right direction for the BNC.

We are also confident that positive results will emanate from the Agreement on Education Cooperation, as well as the Exchange of Letters with regard to granting aid for human resources development, which have been signed this morning.

Regarding economic relations, we have agreed that there should be an early start to the negotiations towards a Free Trade Agreement between China and the Southern African Customs Union.

In addition, South Africa's recognition of China's Market Economy Status will improve linkages between our two economies. It will establish common principles and standards in the negotiation of rules that will govern bilateral trade.

Co-operation on agriculture is another significant area of economic engagement, and we are delighted with the progress made during this BNC. We welcome the signing of the agreements including the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the export of South African agricultural products to China, which would improve our access to the huge Chinese market.

We also welcome the business to business agreements that have been signed here today as well, the Cooperation Agreement between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of South Africa and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, as well as the Letter of Intent between Sasol and the Consortium of Chinese Companies.

This BNC has also agreed to continue strengthening South-South cooperation, and to collaborate on issues pertaining to the WTO, to safeguard the interests of the developing world. The ill-fated WTO round of talks at Cancun indicated that the South needs to remain united and focused in order to achieve its development goals.

Ladies and gentlemen, South Africa and China are important partners in the pursuit of a new international political and economic order based on peace, stability, justice and equality.

In this regard, the BNC discussed several issues facing the international community in the twenty-first century. These include security issues such as conflict resolution in Africa, the Middle East peace process, events in Iraq and the situation in the Korean Peninsula.

Having gone through a protracted conflict over many decades in our country, we believe that the quest for peace is paramount, and that efforts must be made to find peace in every corner of the world.

In this international search for peace, the United Nations must play a key role in order to safeguard world order and stability. The adherence to international law and norms when responding to security challenges that the world faces is crucial.

There should therefore be no alternative to multilateralism in international affairs, and I am pleased Your Excellency that our two countries share this view.

Your Excellency, South Africa believes that the peaceful resolution of conflicts is the only sustainable way of achieving peace and finding lasting solutions. That view informs our active involvement in peacemaking and peacemaking on the African continent.

We are not alone in this view, as evidenced by the new activism for peace within the African continent, especially in light of the drive for the regeneration of the continent. This renewal necessitates the eradication of conflicts, to prepare the continent for sustainable development and progress.

The African Union Heads of State and Government Summit will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia next week, and among the topics for discussion is the question of eradicating conflicts.

South Africa will assume chairpersonship of the newly-established AU Peace and Security Council for the month of July, and the PSC is expected to make recommendations to the Summit on the peace processes in Burundi, Darfur, Cote' d Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A lot has been done to attempt to bring about peace in the respective countries, which indicates the seriousness with which conflict resolution is now taken in the continent. However, the issue of resources, both human and material, usually becomes a hindrance.

We would therefore appreciate any kind of support in this regard, and are pleased with the support already pledged under the auspices of the China-Africa Forum. An investment in peace and stability is a noble investment, and one that will yield returns for generations to come.

Your excellency, as this BNC draws to a close, let me express my sincere appreciation to you as Co-Chair for your friendship and leadership during this meeting.

I hope that you have enjoyed our hospitality as much as we were privileged to host you and your delegation.

Let me also express my appreciation to both our delegations for their hard work, which resulted in the success of our meeting.

I wish you and your team well on the journey back home, and I look forward to continued vibrant cooperation between our two countries.

I Thank you

The Presidency: Republic of South Africa

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