Toast Remarks of the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, in honour of His Excellency, The President of The People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao, on the occasion of the State Banquet - Presidential Guesthouse, Tshwane, 6 February 2007

Your Excellency, President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao,
Your Excellency, Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,
Your Excellencies Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen:

I am privileged once more to extend a very warm South African welcome to you, Your Excellency, and the esteemed members of your delegation. We fondly remember your earlier visit to our country, when you were the Vice President of the People's Republic of China.

Your Excellency, the importance of the Strategic Partnership which we enjoy with the People''s Republic of China is of special significance to us and we value it dearly.

Indeed, South Africa places an extremely high value and regard for the very warm ties of friendship which exist between the governments and peoples of the Republic of South Africa and the People''s Republic of China.

Your visit has served further to cement the friendship between our two countries and, once again, to convey the commitment of the People's Republic of China to advancing the wide-ranging relations between our countries.

We really appreciate, Your Excellency, the frequent high level visits you, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, and other Chinese leaders have made to Africa. These underscore the deep commitment of the People's Republic of China to the bonds of friendship and cooperation with our continent.

We would also like to assure Your Excellency that we too are equally committed to work together with the People's Republic of China further to enhance our mutually beneficial relationship.

We are happy indeed with the outcome of the substantive and wide-ranging talks we had today, and the agreements we have signed, which confirm our shared resolve to continue working closely together in the interest of both our peoples.

Let me once more thank Your Excellency most sincerely for the initiative taken by the Government of China to support our own efforts further to develop our people, by setting up of a Vocational Training Centre in South Africa as well as assisting us to establish an Agricultural Technology Cooperation Centre. This is in addition to your generous provision of assistance to our ASGISA and JIPSA initiatives.

Your Excellency, although we may define it in different terms, we share a common vision for the future of our respective peoples. Your vision for the creation of a harmonious society and our government's determination to work towards a better life for all in a people-centred society, underscore the need for us to continue cooperating in our efforts to eradicate poverty and to advance the interests of the billions of people in Africa, Asia and elsewhere in the developing world.

On the multilateral front, again we share common goals, such as the need to reform the multilateral institutions to ensure a more inclusive and democratic global system of governance.

In this regard I would like to convey our sincere appreciation for the assistance that China has extended to us to enable us the better to discharge our responsibilities as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Likewise, with regard to the international trading system, we agree on the need to conclude the WTO Doha Development Round negotiations as speedily as possible, fully respecting the central objective of this Round of addressing the development imperatives of the developing world.

Unfortunately, some countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East, continue to be engulfed by war and civil strife which claim many innocent lives. We will continue to work with China within the UN system to assist in finding solutions to these urgent problems, in the interest of peace, reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction.

Your Excellency, I am also pleased to reiterate the commitment of the Republic of South Africa to the strengthening of the cooperation with the People's Republic of China so as to advance the agenda of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation and the implementation of the Beijing Plan of Action. We are convinced, Your Excellency, that the implementation of this Plan of Action will be of enormous benefit both to China and Africa.

At the same time, we also welcome China''s unwavering commitment and support for the African Union's development agenda, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, NEPAD.

Your Excellency, as you are aware, through the Joint Communiqué issued at the end of our discussions, we have both reiterated our commitment to the development and expansion of our bilateral relations along the lines of four principles, namely: Mutual Political Trust and Strategic Consultation; Enhancement of Economic Cooperation and Trade; Coordination and Cooperation through Diplomatic Consultations; and the strengthening of Cultural and People to People Interaction.

This serves as a clear demonstration of the progress we have made in establishing a firm base for the further deepening of our bilateral relations, representative of the warm feelings of friendship that our peoples share. I therefore have no hesitation in inviting Your Excellency to consider South Africa as your home away-from-home, as we always feel at home whenever we have occasion to visit China.

Once more, Your Excellency, a warm welcome to you and many thanks for visiting us.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of His Excellency, President Hu Jintao and to the everlasting and enduring friendship between the wonderful people of the People's Republic of China and the people of the Republic of South Africa. To friendship!

Thank you.


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