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Closing Remarks at the Seminar on Xi Jinping Thought & Xi Jinping: the Governance of China (II) Book Review by H.E. Amb. Lin Songtian
2017/12/08

5 December 2017, Pretoria

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Good afternoon!

Today, the Chinese Embassy in South Africa and the Human Sciences Research Council have successfully co-hosted the Seminar on Xi Jinping Thought and Xi Jinping: the Governance of China (II) Book Review. Now we have concluded all agenda.

On behalf of the Chinese Embassy and the HSRC, I wish to express our most sincere gratitude to all of our guests and participants, including South African and Chinese government officials, members of the Parliament, representatives of political parties, academic experts, members of the diplomatic corps, and friends from the media.

Focusing on the theme "People First, Better China, Better South Africa and Better Africa", participants have had extensive and in-depth exchange on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and on how to apply Xi Jinping Thought, especially how to take advantage of its people-centered approach and the values of friendship, justice and shared interests, to synergize China's new blueprint with the development strategy of South Africa and Africa, and to closely combine building a better China with building a better South Africa and better Africa, so as to achieve win-win cooperation for common development. The broad consensus reached in our discussions could be summarized as follows:

First, participants expressed high appreciation for the most timely and relevant Seminar on Xi Jinping Thought. It is our common understanding that Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is a systematic and succinct summary of the new thinking, new ideas, new strategy and new measures of General Secretary Xi over the past five years concerning the governance of the country, the Party, the military and foreign affairs, which have been proven in real practice as being effective and immensely popular; Xi Jinping Thought offers the guiding philosophy and the basic principles to unite and lead the Party and the Chinese people to secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society, and to realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation; Xi Jinping Thought is Marxism in the Chinese context of the 21st century. And it also provides the action plan for China to promote a better world and build a community with a shared future for mankind. Xi Jinping Thought provides African countries with important theoretical reference and choice in their independent pursuit for development paths that suit their national conditions. Participants welcomed the Seminar as being timely and meeting the demands of Africa by offering an important platform and opportunity to learn in a systematic and in-depth manner the 19th CPC National Congress and the profound substance of Xi Jinping Thought. Participants also expressed their appreciation and support for the proposal to establish the Research Center on Xi Jinping Thought at an early date.

Second, participants agreed that the General Secretary Xi Jinping's report at the 19th CPC National Congress and his two books on the governance of China are the most systematic and authoritative works as well as the best textbooks on studying and understanding Xi Jinping Thought, and China's past, present and future. The book review event here is of great academic value. Participants also agreed that, General Secretary Xi's report at the 19th CPC National Congress offers comprehensive and systematic elaboration on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. Xi's two books on the governance of China provides a comprehensive record of the new thinking, new ideas, new strategy, and new measures of General Secretary Xi Jinping in uniting and leading the CPC and the Chinese people to uphold and develop the great practice of socialism with Chinese characteristics. They show the evolution and achievements of Xi Jinping Thought, and display China's wisdom and solutions for building a community with a shared future for mankind and for boosting peace and development.

Third, participants agreed that Xi Jinping Thought is extremely rich and profound and constitutes a complete theoretical system, and that three distinct features of Xi Jinping Thought demand high attention to study and to understand.

-Firstly, committing to a people-centered approach. The essence of the people-centered approach of Xi Jinping Thought is to uphold the principal status of the people and do everything for the people and by the people. It requires that the Party makes it its own mission to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation, and that the Party regards people's aspiration to live a better life as its own goal. It requires that China will not leave a single person of the Chinese population behind in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and to leave no one out on the path towards common prosperity. All CPC members and officials are required to make selfless devotion and sacrifice, and voluntarily exercise the fundamental purpose of serving the people whole-heartedly. These are the secret to China's success, as well as the fundamental reasons why General Secretary Xi has gained the heartfelt support of the people and become the core of the whole Party and the whole country. The people-centered approach may offer a valuable perspective to African leaders and politicians, as it is in stark contrast to the thinking and practices of some Western and African political parties and politicians, who only care about the interest of their own party, small groups, or individuals.

-Secondly, committing to a development path that is suitable for its own national conditions. The fundamental reason of China's success are as follows: it has always remained committed to the overall leadership of the CPC; it has always remained committed to a socialist development path with Chinese characteristics that suits China's national conditions; it has always remained committed to economic development as the Party's central task; and it has remained committed to reform and opening up. China's successful experience offers valuable reference for South Africa and other African countries, and provides African countries with new choice to strive for development path suitable for their own national conditions.

-Thirdly, closely combining building a beautiful China with building a beautiful world, and committing to building a community with a shared future for mankind featuring an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity. Based on the principle of planning together, building together, and sharing together, President Xi Jinping put forward major initiatives including a new type of international relations, the Belt and Road Initiative, and building a community with a shared future for mankind, the purpose of which is to pursue win-win cooperation for common development. There is essential distinction between the initiatives put forward by President Xi Jinping and the approach of the West, whose ideas are based on traditional theories of international relations, such as the zero-sum game, law of the jungle, power politics, or "America First". President Xi Jinping's initiatives have shown future direction for the disorderly world lost in its orientation, contributed Chinese wisdom and solutions to a better world, and has brought African countries important development opportunities.

Fourthly, participants agreed that China and Africa need each other and enjoy complementary strengths, and that China-Africa cooperation is faced with rare historical opportunities. The new era for socialism with Chinese characteristics is not only a new era for China to secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and then embark upon socialist modernization drive, but also a new era for China to make greater contribution to the world, especially to the peace and development cause in Africa and the wider community of all developing countries. In the next five years, China will boast tremendous development prospect in trade, overseas investment and outbound tourism, which would present African countries with huge opportunities in development cooperation. There is strong complementarity and huge potential in China-Africa cooperation, as Africa enjoys rich natural and human resources and needs industrialization, and China needs to relocate its industries and production capacities abroad. Participants agreed that FOCAC should convene a summit next year, so as to help China and Africa fully dovetail China's new development blueprint and the AU 2063 Agenda, synergize China-Africa Belt and Road cooperation, further advance priority cooperation areas and major projects, and jointly draw a new blueprint for China-Africa cooperation.

Fifthly, participants expressed high expectations to strengthen further cooperation between China and South Africa. It is agreed that, China-South Africa relations enjoy the three advantages of political mutual trust, economic complementarity, and friendship between the peoples, and that China and South Africa are at an advanced stage in synergizing Belt and Road cooperation with most favorable conditions to further deepen cooperation. China-South Africa relations could and should play a leading role and become a locomotive for China-Africa unity and cooperation. Next year, China and South Africa will celebrate the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations and co-chair a FOCAC Summit in China while South Africa will host the BRICS Summit. Both China and South Africa should seize these important events and opportunities, further synergize our development strategies, and translate our political mutual trust and people-to-people friendship into the drive to deepen win-win cooperation, and translate our complementary strengths into more fruitful results to benefit our two peoples.

Participants have also put forward valuable recommendations and suggestions with regard to continue exchanges on Xi Jinping Thought and ways to further promote China-South Africa and China-Africa unity and cooperation.

-One, strengthen think-tank and media exchange and cooperation to provide intellectual support to deepen China-South Africa and China-Africa relations. It is agreed that, although being good friends, good partners, and good brothers, there remains prominent problems of lacking deep and thorough understanding of each other and lacking direct exchange and communication between China and Africa. The two sides should make good use of more opportunities of exchange on Xi Jinping Thought, and hold more seminars such as the one today. Efforts should also be made to increase more mutual visits, enhance direct links between each other's media and think tanks, and establish direct channels of information sharing, so as to strengthen mutual understanding and trust, create a friendly and favorable environment of public opinion, and provide positivity and intellectual support for further deepening our relations.

-Two, jointly pursue the values of friendship, justice and shared interests, and China and Africa should open a new path of cooperation different from that of Western colonialism. It is agreed that the values of friendship, justice and shared interests proposed by President Xi Jinping requires us to closely coordinate each other's development to realize win-win cooperation for common development. This speaks out the hearts and minds of the African people, and should become the common pursuit for both China and Africa in our cooperation. Both China and Africa should follow such values and join efforts to build a community of shared future featuring mutual trust, and build a community of shared interests featuring mutual benefit and win-win.

-Three, strengthen peace and security cooperation and work together to ensure a peaceful and stable development environment in Africa. Participants expressed appreciation for China's important contribution to peace and security in Africa. We also expressed concern for the decreasing concern and investment in Africa's peace and development from the West. African countries look forward to China strengthening support for African countries' capacity building to independently resolve African problems, and in the areas of independent national defense, peacekeeping, stability maintenance, counter-terrorism, and combating crimes at sea, so as to support Africa realize durable peace and sustainable development.

-Four, closely combine building a beautiful China with building a beautiful South Africa and Africa, and promote mutually beneficial cooperation in a safe, orderly and effective manner. Participants highly appreciated the important concept of President Xi Jinping on "clean waters and green mountains are invaluable assets" to build a beautiful China. Participants expressed hope that China and Africa will continue to uphold the five major cooperation concepts of common, intensive, green, safe and open development, and promote our mutually beneficial cooperation in a safe, orderly, and effective manner, take strict precautions against Africa's debt risks and environmental risks, and ensure sustainable development of China-South Africa and China-Africa cooperation.

Finally, I wish to once again express my heartfelt appreciation to the Human Sciences Research Council for the generous support to this event. I also want to thank all participating officials, experts and media present here. It is because of your active engagement, valuable contribution and inputs that we can have such an in-depth and thought-provoking discussion. It is my sincere hope that after this seminar, academics, think tanks and journalists from both China and South Africa can share with more people through your own channels and platforms the consensus we have reached today, especially your understanding of Xi Jinping Thought and China.

Thank you!

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