Statement by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation on President Zuma’s outgoing visit to the People’s Republic of China, 27 November 2014

Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media,

We address you today on the upcoming State Visit by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma to the People’s Republic of China. President Zuma accepted an invitation by President Xi Jinping to pay a State Visit to the People’s Republic of China from 04 – 05 December 2014.

President Xi Jinping paid a State Visit to South Africa in March 2013, when the two Leaders agreed to designate 2014 as the “Year of South Africa in China”, and 2015 as the “Year of China in South Africa”. The “Year of South Africa in China” coincided with South Africa’s celebration of 20 years of Freedom and Democracy.

The overall objective of the “Year of South Africa in China” 2014, was to profile South Africa’s political, economic, social and cultural achievements since the advent of a first democratic government in South Africa in 1994.

The year also sought to explore more economic opportunities and also showcase South Africa’s innovations and best practices in various sectors such as science and technology, mining, arts and culture, tourism and people to people interaction.

Last year, in 2013, we marked the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).  The evolution of the relationship between South Africa and China is characterised by

  • the establishment of formal diplomatic relations in 1998;
  • the signing of the Pretoria Declaration on Partnership in 2000;
  • the establishment of the Bi-National Commission in 2001;
  • the elevation of the Partnership to a Strategic Partnership in 2004;
  • the creation of a Programme for Deepening Strategic Partnership in 2006; as well as
  • the signing of the Beijing Declaration on the Establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2010.

South Africa and China share a sound political relationship which can be used better to lay the basis for implementing South Africa’s economic objectives. China has become South Africa’s single largest trading partner in the world, and South Africa has become China’s largest trading partner in Africa.

Some of the objectives of President Zuma’s State Visit to China are:

1. To review the status of our bilateral relations with the People’s Republic of China to ensure that the strategic relationship already defined is further strengthened, focussing on the priority issues of development in South Africa and Africa.

2. To adopt the China-South Africa 5-10 Year Framework on Cooperation that will further entrench the implementation of agreements entered into since the conclusion of the Beijing Declaration in 2010 and expand on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

3. To discuss ways of supporting our industrialisation agenda by agreeing to invest in the development of Science and Technology, agro-processing; mining and mineral beneficiation, renewable energy, finance and tourism.

4. To review progress in the locomotive procurement project, particularly cooperation in equipment manufacturing and the localisation of procurement through joint ventures with South African companies.

5. To review progress with cooperation on infrastructure development.

6. To ensure that our relations with China remain central to realising our developmental agenda through our foreign policy, as we increase our efforts to implement the NDP, cooperating in the areas of Agriculture, Trade and Industry and Finance.

7. To continue to partner with China in addressing Africa’s developmental agenda through our co- chairship of FOCAC until 2018.

Although South Africa and China established formal diplomatic ties relatively not long ago - in January 1998, which was four years after the demise of Apartheid - this relationship has seen phenomenal growth.

The accession by South Africa to the membership of BRICS was an important milestone in the relations between the two countries. It was in December 2010 during China's tenure as Chair of what was then BRIC that South Africa became a member of this important grouping, BRICS.

South Africa is an important entry point and bridge to the rest of the continent. This was aptly demonstrated by South Africa’s successful hosting of the 5th BRICS Summit in Durban in March 2013, where for the first time African leaders were invited to attend, thus creating a platform for dialogue between BRICS and the continent.

The recent establishment of the BRICS Development Bank to be headquartered in Shanghai and the decision to locate its African Regional Centre in South Africa not only raises the level of cooperation between China and South Africa in addressing global challenges, but it is yet another clear indicator of South Africa’s growing significance in driving the African Agenda.

Another important landmark in South Africa-China relations was the assumption by South Africa of the Co-Chair position of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) at its 5th Ministerial Conference in Beijing in July 2012. South Africa sees China as a key partner in implementation of some of the grandiose infrastructure and other development plans on the continent.

We would like to conclude this briefing by underlining the fact that China regards South Africa as a key partner in advancing its relations with the African continent. While the two countries are strikingly different in their cultural, political and socio-economic orientation, they are very close in the positions they take on key issues affecting mankind. Both appreciate the importance of strengthening cooperation on the basis of respect for each other’s core values and interests.

I thank you.

Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, 082 884 5974


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