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Remarks by H.E. Amb. Lin Songtian at the Seminar Jointly Hosted by the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry and South African Institute of International Affairs
9 July 2018    Cape Town
2018/07/10

Respected Ms. Janine Myburgh, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry,

Mr. Sid Peimer, Executive Director of the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry,

Mr. Manu Wope, Chairperson of the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry International Trade and Tourism Portfolio Committee,

Vice Admiral Mr. Martyn Trainor, Vice Chair of South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA),

Friends from think-tanks, media, and the business community,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

First of all, let me thank the SAIIA and the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry for inviting me to share with you some my humble idea on BRICS cooperation and China-South Africa relations.

In two weeks time, the 10th BRICS Summit will be held in Johannesburg. This will be the second time for South Africa to host the BRICS Summit since the Durban Summit in 2013. China and all other BRICS partners have high expectations for the Joburg Summit, and believe that this Summit will inject new vigor into BRICS cooperation and open up a new chapter for the second "Golden Decade" of BRICS cooperation.

As we all know, BRICS was a major cooperation platform established as a collective response by emerging powers to the 2008 international financial storm. South Africa joined the BRICS in 2010. Since then, the BRICS has associated itself with the African continent, making the mechanism more global and more representative, becoming an important platform for the developing countries to safeguard political security, facilitate mutually beneficial economic cooperation, and promote people-to-people exchange and mutual learning. After 10 years of common development, BRICS cooperation has left far behind the outdated practices of political and military alliance, and has established a new type of relations of partnership instead of alliance. BRICS cooperation has transcended the old mentality of drawing lines according to ideology, and has followed a new path of mutual respect and common progress. BRICS cooperation has implemented the new concept of win-win cooperation for common development instead of outdated idea of zero-sum game and the winner taking all,. Today, BRICS has already established itself as a major force in the democratization of international relations, and in shaping the modernization of international governance.

Now, BRICS cooperation has become the most important engine driving world economic growth. The combined population of China, South Africa, Russia, India and Brazil accounts for 40% of world's total, and from 2006 to 2016, the share of the BRICS aggregate economy in the global total has increased from 12% to 23%, trade volume from 11% to 16%, and foreign direct investment from 7% to 12%. Together, BRICS countries contribute to over 50% of world economic growth, which exceeds the contribution of all developed countries combined. BRICS countries have held high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and win-win, maintained effective coordination and collaboration in the United Nations, G20 and other major international fora. BRICS countries have worked actively towards the implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. On hotspot issues and major global challenges such as the climate change, the five countries have demonstrated BRICS wisdom, contributed BRICS plans, and expressed BRICS voices, against the unilateralism and protectionism to safeguard the multilateralism and free trade regime, effectively safeguarding the common interest of all developing countries. The BRICS+ initiative proposed during last year's BRICS Xiamen Summit has opened up a new prospect of broadening the BRICS' circle of friends, and has gained extensive attention and popular support.

BRICS cooperation has produced remarkable results and brought concrete benefits to the peoples of BRICS member states. Over the past 10 years, BRICS' total GDP has grown by 179%, trade expanded by 94%, and urban population increased by 28%, bringing the sense of achievement to over 3 billion population across the member states. The New Development Bank established in 2015 with an initial capitalization of 100 billion US dollars has already reserved sufficient capital to support member states in infrastructure development and production cooperation, breaking the international financial system long monopolized by major western countries, offering a new choice for all the developing countries in their pursuit of self-sustainable development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the BRICS, South Africa has become a major participant, contributor and beneficiary. More importantly, South Africa is a leader and a bridge in connecting BRICS' development cooperation with Africa. From 2011 to 2016, South Africa's trade with other BRICS partners has increased 54.7%. As South Africa's strongest BRICS partner, Chinese investment in South Africa has grown significantly over the years, and has reached 25 billion dollars in accumulative terms, creating over 400,000 local jobs in South Africa. In 2017, bilateral trade between China and South Africa increased by 15.4% year-on-year and registered 39.17 billion dollars. Today, China is South Africa's largest trading partner and a major source of foreign investment and overseas tourists.

In 2017, the New Development Bank opened its Africa Regional Center in Johannesburg and committed to approve 1.5 billion dollars of loans within 18 months of its opening. It is certain that BRICS cooperation will create more strength for the development of South Africa and Africa, and will generate more opportunities for Africa to realize self-sustainable development.

The 10th BRICS Summit soon to be held in Johannesburg will be the first major diplomatic event hosted by H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa since taking office. The world is looking at South Africa, and this will be a great opportunity for South Africa to show itself to the whole world. We are very happy to see that the South African government has seized upon the global trend and the pressing concern of the world, and put forward the Fourth Industrialization Revolution and Inclusive Growth as the theme for the Summit, which has enjoyed strong support from all BRICS member states. The BRICS Joburg Summit will also continue the BRICS+ model adopted by the BRICS Xiamen Summit, and will invite chair countries of the regional organization in African and developing countries partners to attend, creating a platform of strategic dialogue for BRICS and other partners, and demonstrating the international strategic vision and strong sense of responsibility of President Ramaphosa. China will join efforts with South Africa to make the BRICS Joburg Summit a complete success, and inject new vigor into further growth of BRICS comprehensive strategic partnership.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world today has been and will be going through profound and complicated changes. Certain superpower, oves against the trend of times, acts in total disregard of others,and is bent on unilateralism, protectionism, and extreme self-interest. It willfully launches trade war against the whole world, gravely challenges and undermines economic globalization and multilateral trading system, causing instabilities and uncertainties growing in global politics, economics, and security.

Against such a backdrop, it is even more imperative for the BRICS to strengthen unity and cooperation. As instructed by H.E. Chinese President Xi Jinping, the 5 BRICS member states are like the five fingers of hand, each one is different, but together they form a fist. Under the current complicated circumstances, BRICS countries must remain steadfast to the political direction of BRICS cooperation, and send a strong signal of unity, cooperation, common development, multilateralism, and fairness and justice to the international community during the Joburg Summit. BRICS must shoulder its responsibilities and demonstrate its roles in strongly upholding world fairness, justice, and common interest. We strongly believe that through joint efforts, the BRICS Joburg Summit will achieve fruitful results, injecting new dynamism, and drawing up a new blueprint for the second "Golden Decade" of BRICS cooperation.

In response to the volatile global situations, the Chinese President Xi Jinping has proposed a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation, and a community with a shared future for mankind. These proposals have been widely recognized and welcomed by the international community. China is willing to work together with the international community to remain committed to world peace and common development, and work together to build a community with a shared future for mankind. In short, China is ready to work together with international communities for a better world and better life for the peoples in the world. China is ready to synergize its development strategies with developing countries, and promote the Belt and Road construction following the principle of planning together, building together, and sharing together. We are confident that together, we will usher in a new era of win-win cooperation for common development, and make the global governance regime more just and reasonable, bringing better life to the whole world.

Africa is one of the major world pivot , not only in international politics, but also in global economic growth and human civilization. To strengthen unity and cooperation with African countries has always been the cornerstone of China's foreign policy and our long-standing and committed strategic choice. After taking office, H.E. President Xi Jinping of China paid his first overseas visit to Africa including South Africa and during that visit, H.E. President Xi Jinping instructed us that in conducting relations with Africa, we must follow the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests. The essence of his idea is to closely combine China's development with the self-sustainable development of African countries, so as to achieve win-win cooperation for common development.

The Chinese people attaches great importance to honoring our commitment. In December 2015, during the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit, President Xi Jinping announced Ten Major Cooperation Plans with 60 billion US dollars of financial commitment, with an aim to support African facilitate its industrialization and agricultural modernization. Today, we are very proud to see that the implementation of those plans is producing abundant achievements across the African continent. Over a dozen of African countries, such as Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda are demonstrating rapid and robust growth momentum. In my view, the African continent has been emerging now. In this September, the Third FOCAC Summit will be held in Beijing, making another new blueprint for future China-Africa friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year marks the 20th anniversary of China-SA diplomatic relations. After 2 decades of development, China-SA relations now enjoy four advantages, namely political mutual trust, mutually beneficial economic cooperation, people-to-people friendship and cooperation on international affairs. China-SA relations are strategic, all-round, and mutually beneficial, and sopported by 4 major cooperation platforms, namely FOCAC, BRICS, Belt and Road initiative, and South-South Cooperation. These platforms offer a strong political and economic and financial foundation for China and South Africa to comprehensively deepen our mutually beneficial cooperation. China-SA cooperation has already become a great example for China-Africa cooperation and South-South cooperation at large.

I strongly believe that diplomatic relations with any country in the world shall serve the fundamental interest and long term development of the country and beneficial to the people. China has for 9 years remained South Africa's largest trading partner, and one of the most important source of foreign investment and tourists. By the end of 2017, China has in accumulative terms invested over 25 billion US dollars in South Africa, creating over 400,000 local jobs. In 2017, China-South Africa bilateral trade reached 39.17 billion US dollars, which marks an increase of 25 folds compared with the 1.5 billion dollars in 1998 at the beginning of our diplomatic ties. In September last year, South Africa became the first African country to export beef to China.

I have been serving China African relations for a long time in my career. Since I touched the great soils in Africa in 1999, I have already visited to 38 African countries. I have been in South Africa for 10 months as the Chinese Ambassador and have visited 7 of 9 provinces in South Africa. I have toured to almost all the industrial parks and special economic zones in the country. As an old friend of Africa, I am full of confidence for the future of South Africa and China-South Africa relations.

First, I have full confidence in the development prospect of South Africa. As Africa's number one power in terms of overall strengths, South Africa enjoys three development advantages. First is in resources. South Africa has rich mineral resources, agricultural resources, maritime resources and human resources, which rank top in Africa. Second advantage is the location. South Africa is the only African country embraced by the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, and is open to the world. Third advantage is the foundation and conditions for development is unrivaled in Africa. South Africa enjoys political and social stability, advance network of aviation and maritime shipping, well-developed infrastructure of railways, roads, electricity, and telecommunication, and sound legal system. And as Africa's financial center, South Africa also boasts an advanced financial sector and world-class financial regulation.

More importantly, I have full confidence in the leadership by H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa. As a visionary leader, President Ramaphosa is committed to a people-centered development approach, and has set the priority for the South African government to attract investment, grow the economy to create jobs and improve people's livelihood. President Ramaphosa is committed to breaking the three bottlenecks of poverty, unemployment and inequality. President Ramaphosa has put forward the New Investment Drive, Investment Conference, Jobs Summit, and has appoint new Economic Advisor and 4 Special Envoys for investment. These efforts to attract more investors and tourists to South Africa have been warmly received by the South African and international business community. We firmly believe that, under the strong leadership of President Ramaphosa, South Africa will surely succeed in its pursuit of economic and social development.

Third, I have full confidence in China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership. Both China and South Africa regard each other as the strategic pivot and priority in their respective foreign policy. To constantly deepen China-SA comprehensive strategic partnership is a priority for both China and South Africa. South Africa was among the first countries that the Chinese President visited since taking office in his first term. This year, South Africa will once again become among the first countries that President Xi Jinping visits since he was re-elected. Soon, South Africa will become the only country in this world where President Xi Jinping pays 3 State Visits to. Around 20 heads of state or government will be in South Africa for the upcoming BRICS Summit, but only Chinese President will the only head of state to pay a state visit to South Africa at the invitation of H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa. All of these fully demonstrate the strong political commitment and determination of the two Presidents to deepen China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through 40 years of reform and opening up, China has achieved a world development miracle by averaging 9.5% annual GDP growth rate. Today, China has become the world's second largest economy, the number one manufacturer, No.1 exporter of goods, largest consumption market, the biggest holder of foreign exchange reserve, and the number one tourism spending power. China has also become a major source of outbound investment and tourists, averaging over 100 billion US dollars a year. China's contribution to world economic growth alone exceeds that of all of the developed countries combined. It is estimated that in the next 5 years, China will import 10 trillion US dollars of goods, make 750 billion dollars of outbound direct investment, and 650 million Chinese tourists will travel out of China.

South Africa, with its rich resources, superb location, and best foundation and conditions for economic development in Africa, is the most mature country for deepening China-Africa mutually beneficial cooperation. With China's comparative strengths in capital, technology, 1.4 billion population market, enterprises, experts, and successful development experience, China and South Africa complement and needs each other with our respective strengths and are facing historic opportunities to synergize our development strategies for win-win cooperation for our common development.

China is ready to join efforts with South Africa to seize the opportunities of the BRICS Johannesburg Summit and the FOCAC Beijing Summit, expand two-way trade and investment, and further intensify mutually beneficial cooperation in 10 priority areas, including manufacturing and processing, agriculture, tourism, marine economy, digital economy, industrial park development, infrastructure, human resources, scientific research and innovation, and finance.

China is commited ourselves to being South Africa's truth friend and most reliable cooperation partner for economic and social transformation and development. China will fully support South Africa to become the locomotive and production base to drive African industrialization and modernization. We will fully support South Africa to become a pilot demonstration country for connecting the Belt and Road construction with Africa. We sincerely believe that working together, China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership will surely become more productive and bring more benefits to our two countries and two peoples.

Thank you!

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