Remarks by Ministers Dlamini Zuma and Yang Jiechi on Conclusion of Bilateral Discussions Presidential Guesthouse, Bryntirion Estate, Pretoria Monday 7 January 2008
Remarks by Minister Dlamini Zuma
Let me firstly take this opportunity since this is the first time I am meeting many of you for the year to wish you a very successful 2008 and I hope we will continue to work as we have in the past.
Let me say how happy we are that Minister Yang has decided to begin his African visit by visiting South Africa. This is Minister Yang’s first visit to Africa as Chinese Foreign Minister. We are very happy about this.
The year 2008 and this visit in particular marks a very important landmark in our relations – we will be celebrating ten years of diplomatic relations and so this visit marks the beginning of many commemorative events that will be taking place during the year – in China and South Africa. We believe this visit has come at a very appropriate time.
Besides discussing what we will do during the year to commemorate this very important event, we also discussed our own bilateral relations and how we can enhance them – both in terms of co-operation in the various fields since we co-operate in many areas – we will be looking at all of these issues viz. co-operation in trade, science and technology, education, skills development, agriculture – there is a whole range of co-operation in which we are engaged under the auspices of the Joint Binational Commission, including training of our tour guide operators to speak Chinese as well as some of our diplomats. It is therefore a very broad co-operation.
China will later in the year host the 2008 Olympic Games and we are looking ahead to 2010 in both countries – South Africa will host the FIFA Soccer World Cup while China will host the Shanghai World Expo in which South Africa will participate in quite a big way.
We also discussed how we would enhance our dialogue – we decided we would operationalise a Strategic Dialogue that will allow us to annually discuss a whole range of political issues.
We also discussed the One-China Policy that is always on our agenda – this is an ongoing element of our discussions.
We also looked at the Forum for China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) in which South Africa is an active participant and we are also sharing views on other international issues – we discussed what we are doing in various countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo and a whole range of other issues, some of which we will continue discussing later.
I thank you.
Remarks by Minister Yang Jiechi
Thank you very much Minister Dlamini Zuma.
I really appreciate this opportunity to meet you here and I would like to follow my host’s example by sincerely and warmly wishing members of the media a most prosperous and happy New Year.
This is really my first visit to Africa as the Chinese Foreign Minister and we attach a great deal of importance to our relations with South Africa. We therefore began this four nation tour with a visit to South Africa.
Just a short while ago, the Foreign Minister and I had very intensive discussions which covered both our bilateral relationship and our co-operation in the international arena.
I guess my visit comes at an auspicious time because we are marking the 10th anniversary of our diplomatic relations so at the beginning the Foreign Minister and I talked at great length of how to make this celebration most meaningful and most significant for the next decade of relations.
There will be a series of exchanges between our two countries – there will be a South Africa week in China and some top leaders of this country will visit China and China will also send more high level delegations to this country.
We are going to host a cultural show in this country, exhibitions and a trade fair in South Africa. I think it is also important for the people in the media and in the academic field to increase the interflow of two way visits during the course of this year.
The last decade has witnessed the rapid progress in our relationship. I believe this is because the top leaders of our countries attach a great deal of importance to this relationship. In 2004 we characterised this relationship as a Strategic Partnership and facts have proved that this is indeed a relationship of great strategic significance. Secondly, there is very good mechanism for carrying out our co-operation. For instance, the Binational Commission under which there are five sub-commissions – Foreign Affairs, Trade, Education, Science and Technology and Defence. So, we are going to work to further improve on this mechanism. We discussed how to achieve this through the two Foreign Ministries.
We are very glad to announce the establishment of a Strategic Dialogue Mechanism between our two countries at the Vice Foreign Minister level and Foreign Minister Dlamini Zuma and I will meet quiet regularly ourselves. We have said that we should, at the UN General Assembly, make it a tradition to meet and talk extensively about strategic issues.
And thirdly, I believe we have witnessed good developments on the economic front – it is projected that the total trade volume for 2007 will total US$ 40 billion – eight times the volume of that in 1998 when we established diplomatic relations and the contractual investment, both ways, in about US$ 1 billion so we can see that there is great prospects for trade and economic co-operation and then both sides also attach a great deal of importance to co-operation in the international arena.
We have today covered some international issues like the situation in some regions of the world. We also discussed the Darfur situation and both sides hope that there will be parallel progress in peacekeeping operations and in the political process in that area and I expect that we will tonight cover more issues so this relationship is a mutually beneficial relationship. Our two countries really help and support each other.
We very much appreciate the One-China Policy firmly pursued by the South African government and we also wish the people of South Africa still greater progress in their economic and social development.
Lastly, I would like to say that the China – Africa Co-operation Forum is witnessing new progress. At the Summit held in Beijing in 2006, our President announced an eight point programme and this programme is being steadily carried out – debt relief, tariff exemption measures are in place and we have increased our aid to African countries and clinics, hospitals, schools are being built. We hope that our two sides will work even harder together to ensure that this eight point programme will do the best for the African people. We wish this Continent continuous progress.
Lastly, I would like to express my warm appreciation to Foreign Minister Dlamini Zuma and all our South African friends for according warm hospitality to my delegation and myself.
Thank you very much.
Questions and answers
Question Minister Yang, why are visiting the four countries you have chosen to visit. And what is your view of what is happening in Kenya?
Answer You know that I assumed the post of Foreign Minister not too long ago so I will have to work step-by-step and I would have liked to visit more African countries on this trip but due to time constraints I am able to visit only these four countries. You will see a lot of me in the next few years as I visit parts of Africa. There is a traditional friendship between China and Africa and in this new era of development against the background of globalization, I think there is increasing reason for China and Africa to support each other in nation building.
With regard to the situation in Kenya, Kenya is a country that is very friendly towards China and vice-versa. We hope that the situation there will calm down and there will be effective dialogue. We hope to see stability and peace in that country. We know that quite a few other countries have also expressed their concern. We do hope that peace and stability can be restored to that country.
Question Minister Yang, there are relations between China, Taiwan and Malawi. Media reports are saying that China has offered US$ 6 million aid to Malawi to sever ties with Taiwan. What is your comment on this matter?
Answer China is a country of principle. There is one China in the world and this is a fact that is widely recognised by the international community and we are ready to strengthen and build relations with all countries in the world.
Question Minister Dlamini Zuma, you have said that 2008 will see 10 years of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa. How do you see the relations growing in the next few years and how will both countries strengthen their relations?
Answer As Minister Yang has said, we have had 10 very good years of relations between China and South Africa. Our co-operation has been multi-faceted. We co-operate bilaterally, we have signed about 30 agreements in the last decade which we are implementing in various areas. We have also co-operated in the multilateral sphere, we co-operate quite closely in all the multilateral organisations and off course, during 2007 and 2008 we have co-operated quite closely in terms of the UN Security Council since South Africa has been a non-permanent member during this time. We also have co-operated within Africa, within the China-Africa Forum and this has also been very good.
But we are looking forward to increasing our co-operation. We have just agreed we will have a programme that will entail South Africa and China working together in order to enhance South African beneficiation of products so that we can indeed export value-added goods to China. We are looking forward to this.
We are also co-operating in the area of skills development and there is going to be a centre for agriculture that China will together with South Africa build in this country – around the Gariep Dam.
There are lots of programmes in which we have co-operation including co-operation with the Tshwane University. There has been many areas of co-operation that we envisage.
During this 10th anniversary celebration we hope to take this co-operation to higher levels by ensuring all sectors of South African and Chinese society participate. The Minister was saying we will host a South Africa week in April where we will deal with tourism issues, academic exchanges, trade promotion and we will have cultural exchanges.
We will later see how our athletes look at China during the Olympics.
We will also during the year have a trade exposition in China, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.
Our navy will participate in training exercises with their Chinese counterparts.
There will be many activities that will showcase this decade of relations.
The Chinese government will also be hosting various activities – academic, cultural, tourism exchanges.
We look forward to participating meaningfully in the Shanghai Expo because we think this Expo, besides being a good event in China, will also be an opportunity for South Africa to showcase itself to a wider global audience. One of the things that we have agreed upon – we will arrange reciprocal media exchange programmes.
Question Minister Dlamini Zuma did you discuss the non-proliferation issue in the Middle East? How do you think the Security Council should proceed in this matter given that extensive dialogue between Iran and the IAEA is ongoing?
Answer Well, we have not discussed this matter yet – as Minister Yang has said there are some issues we will discuss later this evening.
As members of the Security Council – China a permanent member and South Africa a non-permanent one – it is in our interest for this reason in particular and for general interest.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
7 January 2008