China-South Africa Relations—The Source of My Happiness
——Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Tian Xuejun at His Farewell Luncheon Hosted by the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Honorable Minister Mashabane,
Colleagues from DIRCO,
Thank you very much for hosting such a warm and special farewell luncheon for my wife and me. I am deeply touched by the extremely kind and heartwarming remarks from the Honorable Minister Mashabane.
It has been my great honor to have served for five years as the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa. For me, this has been the most rewarding experience of my over 30 years of diplomatic career. And on this occasion, it gives me a great opportunity to reflect on what I have harvested and enjoyed so much of my tenure in South Africa.
To begin with, I have harvested a golden era in China-South Africa relations. Over the past five years, China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership continues to grow at a high level. The Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited South Africa twice and the South African President Jacob Zuma visited China for three times. The two countries have signed the 5-10 Year Strategic Program on Cooperation. The two Presidents have also co-chaired the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Johannesburg Summit, mapping out a new blueprint for China-Africa relations.
As you would expect, serving as the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa can be quite busy and demanding. But in equal measures, it has been a remarkable experience filled with a sense of purpose and achievement. Because of our joint efforts, today the cooperation between China and South Africa offers benefits to our peoples on a greater scale, in more areas, and at a higher level than ever before. And these achievements have been my most powerful source of happiness.
I have also harvested profound trust and friendship. My wife and I regard South Africa as our second home, and the people of South Africa as our brothers and sisters. I’m very thankful for the good working relations as well as personal friendship I’ve come to foster across the South African society, especially with colleagues from DIRCO.
I wish to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Honorable Minister Mashabane, Deputy Minister Mfeketo, Deputy Minister Landers, and Acting Director General Mahoai. Thank you for your unwavering trust and support. I want to thank Deputy Director General Ambassador Sooklal, Chief Director Ambassador Genge, and DIRCO colleagues for your unremitting efforts towards China-South Africa and China-Africa relations. It is only with your strong support that we have accomplished so many missions that at first thought to be impossible.
Last but not the least, I have harvested a great honor. Last month, I had the great privilege of receiving from the Honorable Minister the Ubuntu O.R Tambo Excellence in Diplomacy Award. Coincidentally, just a few days later, I received the instruction from my capital to conclude my term of duty here and return to China. President Zuma said, patriotic, humble, integrity, and passion are the four core values of the O.R Tambo spirit. In my view, these are also indispensable values for the diplomatic profession. In my new post, I shall continue to follow the spirit of O.R Tambo, and contribute to the growth of China-South Africa and China-Africa relations.
Once again, my heartfelt thanks to Hon. Minister Mashabane and all of you. No matter where I am, South Africa will always be very dear to my heart. I will miss you.
Long Live China-South Africa Friendship!