Opening Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Official Talks on the occasion of the State Visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Union Buildings, Tshwane, 22 August 2023
Your Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers from China and South Africa,
Ambassador of China and South Africa,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to officially welcome you, President Xi, on your Fourth State Visit to South Africa.
This visit takes place in the year that we celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and South Africa.
Our relations over the last quarter of a century are founded on South Africa’s commitment to the One China Policy.
The relationship between the people of South Africa and China stretches back many decades. We recall with deep gratitude the support of the Chinese people for our struggle for freedom and democracy.
China has been a valued friend and developmental partner of South Africa throughout the course of rebuilding our country from the ruins of apartheid.
I wish to make special mention of China’s support during the COVID-19 pandemic through the provision of personal protective equipment, vaccines and other essential items to South Africa and other African countries. This support extended to the cancellation of the debt of a number of Africa countries.
We thank you, President Xi, for these acts of generosity and solidarity.
South Africa deeply appreciates China’s support in addressing our current energy challenges. This includes the donation of emergency power equipment worth R167 million and availing a grant of approximately R500 million as development assistance.
Chinese companies, encouraged by your government, responded with enthusiasm to our investment drive, which has raised more than R1.5 trillion in investment commitments over the last five years.
Building on this firm foundation, we should continue to provide each other with mutual support.
Over the years, the relationship between South Africa and China has been steadily strengthened and has transformed into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that is underpinned by 10-Year Strategic Programmes of Cooperation.
China and South Africa share common goals of economic growth, development and common prosperity for our respective countries and for all countries of the Global South. It is this common outlook that has enabled us to deepen our cooperation on several fronts.
South Africa maintains high-level cooperation with China in several areas. These include, but are not limited to, international politics, trade, investment, infrastructure development, science, innovation and education.
Energy cooperation with China is a recent development that we look to deepen, particularly in line with our respective commitments to low-carbon, climate resilient development.
This year has seen the resumption of in-person engagements at the various levels of our structured bilateral mechanisms. Examples of this are the Strategic Dialogue that took place in Beijing in May and the High-Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism in Cape Town in February. The Binational Commission is also scheduled to take place in November this year.
China is South Africa’s largest global trading partner. South Africa is also China’s biggest trading partner in Africa and an important destination for Chinese investment in Africa.
Our bilateral trade has grown exponentially, from less than R1 billion in 1998 to over R614 billion in 2022. As South Africa, we would like to see the significant trade deficit narrowed and this visit is an opportunity for us to look at ways to do so.
Development cooperation between China and South Africa is strong.
As South Africa, we are inspired by China’s common prosperity strategy, and are encouraged that this includes improving the welfare and well-being of all countries of the Global South.
Welcome the progress that has been made regarding various FOCAC-related infrastructural development projects in South Africa, such as small harbours development and the flagship uMzimvubu Water Development project.
We are looking forward to hosting the 15th BRICS Summit, having taken over from China as Chair in 2022. We thank China for its support in convening this Summit.
We share your view, President Xi, that BRICS has a vitally important role to play in the reform of global governance and in the promotion of multilateralism and cooperation throughout the world.
South Africa and China have similar views on the expansion of BRICS membership and we look forward to the discussions we will have on this matter during the BRICS Leaders’ Retreat.
We look forward to co-chairing the Africa-China Leaders’ Roundtable alongside you.
This is a valuable opportunity to take forward the growing relationship between China and the continent of Africa founded on respect, mutual-benefit and good faith. We agree that this is an opportunity to expand cooperation in areas such as agriculture, manufacturing, new energy and the digital economy.
South Africa and China have expressed similar positions in support of the peaceful resolution of the Russia-Ukraine conflict through diplomacy, inclusive political dialogue and negotiations.
As South Africa we look forward to another 25 years of friendship and cooperation with China, and well beyond.
At a time when the world faces many geopolitical, social, economic, environmental and other challenges, it is up to us to deepen our cooperation and turn challenge into opportunity as we build a shared future.
As friends and BRICS partners, we stand together in our shared quest for a better, more egalitarian world that frees the potential of all peoples.
I invite you now, President Xi, to make your opening statement.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency