Opening Remarks by Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Nomaindiya Mfeketo to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Senior Officials Meeting, OR Tambo Building, Pretoria, 02 December 2015
Vice Minister Zhang Ming,
Ambassadors and Senior Officials,
Program Director: Director General Matjila,
Vice Minister ZHANG and I met earlier this month in Cape Town to discuss preparations for the FOCAC Summit. We were fortunate enough to meet again yesterday at the Roundtable Discussion on China Africa Relations in Sandton. I believe and trust that this is the beginning of a close partnership. During our meeting we reviewed the progress made thus far in preparing for FOCAC. We also reiterated our shared belief and hope that the work we are about to undertake in the FOCAC meetings will fully capture the immense potential scope of the Africa and China partnership.
In fact, trade links between Africa and China can be traced back as far as the 15th Century when China briefly undertook a number of trade missions, including to the continent, under Ming Emperor Yongle in 1405. These sadly ended nine years after the Emperor’s death in 1433. Had the interaction begun in the 15th Century been maintained, it certainly begs the question as to how the face of China-Africa relations would appear in the 21st Century.
It is my privilege to welcome all delegates to South Africa and to the OR Tambo Building for the 11th FOCAC Senior Officials Meeting. I trust that you have all travelled well and that arrangements so far have been to your satisfaction.
Many of you were here exactly a year ago for the 10th FOCAC Senior Officials Meeting in this very same venue. It was at that meeting where, an agreement was reached to recommend that the 6th Ministerial Meeting of FOCAC should be elevated to the level of a Summit. This recommendation was subsequently endorsed by our respective Heads of State and so the path to the hosting of the Johannesburg Summit was cleared.
The elevation of the 6th Ministerial Meeting to a Summit reflects an understanding of the critically important nature of the Africa-China relationship. More important though for us and our people, is to ensure that the Summit succeeds in making a material and tangible difference in the lives of our people. This Summit affords the opportunity for introspection, leadership and decision-making at the highest level. It opens the doors for us to do more. I am confident that you will succeed in achieving these objectives here today and over the course of the Summit.
You will all know doubt be aware that our work since December last year has been ongoing and has progressed in terms of content and direction. This progress speaks to the increasing global economic challenges we face as developing countries needing to strengthen institutional, technical and infrastructural capacities.
During this series of FOCAC meetings, we are firmly committed to ensuring that the FOCAC process is linked to the principles, goals and objectives of Agenda 2063 and its Ten Year Implementation Plan. Agenda 2063 forms the blueprint of what we as African countries have identified as being essential to bringing about the desired transformation of our continent.
In this regard, we are fortunate to be able to rely upon this unique partnership with the People’s Republic of China. There is a mutual recognition of the need to ensure outcomes that we can hold up to our people as examples of the hard work done in framing the mutually beneficial nature of our relationship.
I expect that the Summit will be the backdrop for unprecedented announcements that will elevate the Africa-China partnership to a new path and which will contribute significantly to Africa’s growth. For example I have been told that investment in industrialization and enhanced manufacturing capacity can be expected as part of the announcements. This would impact directly on job creation and poverty eradication.
Our immediate task is to conclude recommendations to our principals to ensure that the final Declaration and Action Plan of the FOCAC are worthy of African and Chinese aspirations and that they are a true reflection of Africa-China Progressing Together through Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development.
Let me take this opportunity to wish you productive deliberations and hope that all that we discuss today will translate into a better life for all the people who live their lives in poverty and underdevelopment.
I thank You.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road