Toast Remarks by President Thabo Mbeki on the Occasion of the Official Dinner in Honour of His Excellency, Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, Tuynhuys, Cape Town, 21 June 2006

Your Excellency, Premier Wen Jiabao,
The Hon Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,
Your Excellencies, Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Presiding Officers of our National Parliament,
Leaders of our political parties,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Your Excellency, I am privileged to extend a very warm South African welcome to you and the members of your delegation. South Africa attaches the greatest importance to the close and cordial relations of friendship and mutually beneficial co-operation between our two governments, peoples and countries. In this regard, we are indeed very happy that our countries agreed to enter into a strategic partnership.

We are indeed very grateful, Mr Premier, that you found time to visit us, accompanied by a high-level government delegation as well as important representatives of the Chinese business community. In this regard, I would like to say welcome home, because, truly, we consider the Chinese people our own brothers and sisters, who have stood side by side with us as we confronted difficult challenges, as during our struggle against apartheid.

In this regard, I am very pleased indeed that, through you, Premier, the People's Republic of China has made an unequivocal commitment to assist us to address our serious challenges of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.

Mr Premier, your visit to our country has served further to cement the friendly relations between our two countries and, once more, to confirm our mutual commitment to the strengthening of the strategic partnership between our two countries. This is reflected in the document on the Programme of Co-operation on Deepening the Strategic Partnership between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, which we signed today.
Our substantive and wide-ranging talks today and the important agreements we signed constitute a practical expression of our mutual determination to give real meaning to this strategic partnership.

As you are aware, Your Excellency, since our countries established diplomatic relations in 1998, economic co-operation and co-operation in other fields between the Peoples Republic of China and South Africa has grown significantly. In this regard, it is notable that since last year, China has become South Africa's second largest import trading partner and our eighth largest export partner.

This demonstrates that despite the geographic distance that separates our countries, it is possible further to develop our economic relations, to the mutual benefit. In this regard, Your Excellency, I am confident that the China-South Africa Business Co-operation Forum, which will be held tomorrow, will help us to achieve this objective, which should include larger volumes of investment in our respective economies.

Your Excellency, I am pleased to note that our strategic relationship is also reflected at the multilateral level. I am certain that we will continue to work to strengthen our co-operation in this area. We are together committed to the building of a more equitable world order, including the advancement and deepening of South-South relations in this regard.

In this regard, one area that provides possibilities for joint efforts between ourselves is in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations. As you will recall, Your Excellency, South Africa was one of the strongest supporters of China's accession to the WTO. It is clear that it is in our common interest that we should continue to work for the reform of the governance of the global economic and financial system, of which the WTO is an important part.

Your Excellency, as members of the G20 we are faced with the challenge to continue working together for the successful conclusion of the Doha Development Round especially to address the needs of the developing countries.
Again, Your Excellency, I am pleased that we are working together to encourage the reform of the United Nations, to ensure that this indispensable world body operates as a truly democratic forum of the nations, reflecting the political realities of the 21st century.

We also place high value on the Forum for China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC), which will convene in Beijing in November this year. We consider the Forum an important institution that will help us further to deepen the historic and mutually beneficial relations between our continent and the People's Republic of China, including the promotion of the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, NEPAD.

As we travel this path together we are united by the past in which our heroic peoples struggled and defeated colonialism and apartheid and have since faced similar challenges confronting all developing countries. As partners and comrades, I am confident that we will again overcome whatever new challenges we face, as we respond to matters that arise from the process of globalisation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I ask you to join me in a toast to the friendship between the peoples of the People's Republic of China and South Africa and the further strengthening of our strategic partnership.

To friendship!

Thank you.

Issued by: The Presidency
21 June 2006

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