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Speech by H.E. Ambassador Lin Songtian at the Send-off Reception for South African Recipients of Chinese Government Scholarship

At the outset, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of you and warm congratulations to the South African recipients of Chinese government scholarship who will leave for China.

Today, the Chinese Embassy in South Africa is holding a grand reception to send off the South African recipients of the Chinese government scholarship. Hereby, I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology, the University of Johannesburg and all friends from the education sector for your support to the Chinese side in sending outstanding South African students to study in China. In particular, I would like to thank the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology for providing pre-trip training and additional government funding.

The Chinese government scholarship program is a state-level scholarship program set up by the Chinese government with the purpose of enhancing the mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese people and people around the world, and stepping up exchanges and cooperation in such field as education between China and other countries. The Chinese government scholarship funds outstanding students, teachers and scholars from all over the world to study or carry out research in Chinese universities.

Since its inception in South Africa in 2001, the Chinese government scholarship program has provided more than 400 South African students with full scholarships to study in China, and the number of scholarships has been on the increase in recent years. This year, in addition to providing scholarships for more than 150 South African students studying in Chinese universities, the Chinese government will offer scholarships to another over 50 South African students present here today to study in China. So, the number of South African recipients of Chinese government scholarship will surpass 200 in 2019. The total number of South African students studying in China, including self-funded students, has exceeded 3,000. I am glad to tell you that thanks to the efforts of the Chinese Embassy, 20 scholarships will be offered to South African students to study in Central South University and 10 scholarships in Nanjing University of Technology.

This year, among the 50-plus South African recipients of Chinese government scholarship, 22 were selected by the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology, 14 recommended by the University of Johannesburg and nearly 20 on other special scholarships. About three-quarters of these students are going to pursue doctoral and master's degree in over 30 majors.

Chinese government scholarships for South African students are all full scholarships, including tuition fees, boarding fees, living expenses and medical insurance. The Chinese government scholarship funds foreign students to pursue doctoral, master's and bachelor's degree in almost all majors offered by Chinese universities.

The undergraduates studying in China on Chinese government scholarships are taught in Chinese. The Chinese government scholarship recipients are required to study Chinese language and basic knowledge in a designated preparatory college for one academic year and pass the examination before starting their major study. The graduate students are also taught in Chinese, and some schools can provide English courses for some majors. The scholarship recipients who choose to be taught in Chinese and whose Chinese language level does not meet the requirement must take the Chinese language courses for 1-2 academic years, and can only start their major study after meeting the requirements of the admitted institutions. Otherwise, they cannot continue to enjoy the Chinese government scholarship to study in China. They can also enjoy Chinese government scholarship while studying the Chinese language.

In addition to the scholarships provided by the Chinese Central Government, Chinese local governments, universities, especially those have cooperative relations with the Confucius Institutes, as well as the enterprises investing in South Africa can also offer scholarships to South African students. You can log on www.campuschina.org to search relevant information.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Cultural and people-to-people exchanges have become an important part of China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership and are at the forefront of China-Africa cooperation. China and South Africa have set up the first high-level people-to-people exchange mechanism. Bilateral exchanges and cooperation in education, culture, science and technology, health, youth and women have been expanding, which has greatly enhanced mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples and laid a solid public foundation for the development of China-South Africa friendship. South Africa has become the sub-Saharan African country with the largest number of Chinese tourists, the largest number of sister provinces and cities with China, and the largest number of Confucius Institutes and Classrooms. China has also become a popular destination for South African students and tourists.

In order to promote educational exchanges and cooperation between China and South Africa, the Chinese Embassy in South Africa has taken two major initiatives this year. First, setting up exchange programs between leaders of educational institutions at all levels and university students. From September to October this year, we will invite a 25-member delegation of university presidents, 25-member delegation of elementary and secondary school principals and a 40-plus-member delegation of youth leaders of university students to visit China. They will carry out a variety of colorful activities in China. This is the first time for the three delegations to visit China in the history of the China-South Africa relations. In the future, we will set up the exchange mechanism for university presidents of the two countries, arrange delegations of Chinese university presidents to visit South Africa, and hold Chinese higher education exhibition in South Africa.

Second, encouraging Chinese and South African higher learning institutions to jointly cultivate students and set up joint laboratories. In order to encourage colleges and universities in our two countries to jointly cultivate students, the Semester Study in China Project of the Chinese Government Scholarship Program has been put in place this year. The scholarship will be used by South African universities that already have student exchange agreements and mutual credit recognition agreements with Chinese universities to send students to study in China. The Chinese Embassy in South Africa, in cooperation with the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Universities South Africa and International Education Association of South Africa, will recommend the first batch of 16 semi-annual scholarship recipients to China Scholarship Council by the end of 2019. They can leave for China in February, 2020. In addition, some Chinese higher vocational and technical colleges have found cooperative partners in South Africa and started running schools together. Several joint laboratories will also be unveiled and start operations. We will continue to increase Chinese government scholarships to South African students and encourage them to apply for other scholarships.

At present, the number of South African students in China has exceeded 3,000, more than seven times that of five years ago. However, the number of Chinese students in South Africa has declined from over 2000 in 2014 to only about 200 in 2018. We will take measures to encourage and promote Chinese students to study in South Africa. South Africa is a front runner in terms of higher education in Africa. Four of Africa's best universities are in South Africa and are all among the global top 500. We will encourage more Chinese students and scholars, especially graduates to study in South Africa.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Over the past 70 years, the Communist Party of China has led the Chinese people to successfully explore the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, which enables all the Chinese people to achieve common prosperity by “planning together, building together and sharing together”. It has offered new choices for other developing countries to alleviate poverty and realize social and economic development.

After more than 40 years of reform and opening up, China has created a world development miracle of an average annual GDP growth rate of 9.5%, fundamentally transforming the once poor and backward country to the world’s second largest economy, largest manufacturer, largest trader in goods, largest holder of foreign exchange reserves, and largest tourism spender. More than 700 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty. China’s overseas investment exceeds 100 billion US dollars annually, and more than 150 million outbound trips are made every year. China contributes to 30% of the world’s economic growth, more than the developed countries combined.

It is our strong belief that if China can achieve success, South Africa can also make it. China has remained South Africa’s largest trading partner for ten consecutive years and main source of investment and tourists now. China is ready to encourage more Chinese enterprises and tourists to go to South Africa for investment, business and tourism, provide opportunities for more South African export to China, and stay firmly committed to supporting South Africa’s efforts for economic development, job creation and poverty reduction for common development.

It is the right time for the South African students present here to go to China for study. Last year, the Chinese and South African governments signed the Agreement of Mutual Recognition of Higher Education Certificates, Diplomas and Degrees, which officially came into effect in April 2019. The agreement will certainly boost our bilateral cooperation in higher education and provide strong support for more scholars and students to study and work in each other’s country.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of my advice and suggestions for your study in China:

First, cherish the opportunity to focus on study. Your sole mission in China is to study and acquire professional knowledge, and do your best to finish your study with distinction, so as to grace your mother country and family, and prepare yourself for a bright future.

Second, go out of campus during holidays to learn more about China, the Chinese culture and people, make more Chinese friends and become the envoy of China-South Africa friendship. China is both old and young. Full of vitality, yet the country is still facing inadequate and unbalanced development, and lagging far behind developed countries. However, China itself is a new textbook of human development, still in the process of development and improvement. You will learn in China many things never found in your textbooks and find many opportunities. Travel around the country, you will experience the harmonious and safe society and discover the secrets to China’s huge success.

Third, abide by laws and rules, live in harmony with Chinese and other foreign students and show a new image of South Africa. China is a country under rule of law. The government and universities administer according to law and regulations. Both the Chinese and foreign students should comply with university rules and regulations. There is no exception.

Fourth, promote the development of South Africa and deepen friendship between China and South Africa. South Africa is now committed to realizing social and economic transformation, which calls for large amount of professional and skilled personnel. It is our sincere hope that after finishing your study in China, you will come back to contribute to your own country’s development and become the envoy of China-South Africa friendship.

In conclusion, I wish your excellent academic achievements and joyful stay in China.

Thank you!

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