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South Africa Has Great Potential and Foundation for Promising Future

Honorable Mr. Cedric Frolick, House Chairperson of the National Assembly of the Parliament,

Respected Mr. Chan Wangsang, Chairman of the South Africa-China Shenzhen Association & Chamber of Commerce,

Respected Mr. Wu Huan, Deputy Chief of the United Front Work Department of Shenzhen City,

Friends from the Chinese and South African government, business communities, and media,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening!

It is my great pleasure to attend the 4th International Conference of Shenzhen Association & South Africa-Shenzhen Trade Conference. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa, I wish to express my warmest congratulations and extend a very warm welcome to all the delegates, government officials, and business leaders coming from Shenzhen and from over 20 countries across the world for this event. We warmly welcome all of you to invest in South Africa, to take an active part in South Africa’s economic and social transformation, and to achieve your business greater growth and success.

Shenzhen is one the of the earliest windows through which China reformed and opened to the outside world. Shenzhen is also the flagship that has best captured the story of China’s reform and opening up. Since the inception of the idea of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone by Comrade Deng Xiaoping, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, the people of Shenzhen have embarked on a path of pioneering reform. The people of Shenzhen are bold, courageous, and daring to be the first. Standing at the very forefront of China’s reform and opening up, they have played an unequivocal leading role in China’s rapid development and its engagement with the whole world. In the process, they have not only achieved the remarkable Shenzhen miracle, but have also developed the Shenzhen spirit of reform and innovation, honesty and law-abiding conduct, result-orientated and high efficiency, unity, and dedication. Shenzhen is without doubt a beautiful name card of China to the world.

Since the establishment of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ), Shenzhen has transformed from a small fishing village of only 30,000 population to a world-class modern metropolitan of over 12 million people. Today, as one of the four earliest SEZs in China, Shenzhen’s GDP has already surpassed Singapore, Malaysia, Finland, Israel, and over 160 countries around the world, and its per capita GDP has overtaken Taiwan and reached US$27,000.

But the story of Shenzhen is just one of the many more stories of economic success recorded in China’s 40 years of historic reform and opening up. Over the past 40 years, China has achieved over 30 times of GDP growth, averaging an annual growth rate of 9.5%. China’s Foreign trade volume has been growing at 14.5% per year. The life of over 1.3 billion Chinese people has been transformed from austerity to moderate prosperity, with about 400 million mid-income population. More than 700 million people were lifted out of poverty, contributing over 70% to global poverty reduction efforts. China has created a development miracle never happened before in the textbook of human history. Through reform and opening up, China has fundamentally ensured the basic human rights to work, to live, to eat, to hospital, and to school for over 1.3 billion population, making a great example for the world in promoting human rights.

Once being ridiculed as the “sick man of East Asia”, today China has become the world’s second largest economy, largest manufacturer, largest trading power of goods, the holder of the biggest foreign exchange reserve, and a major source of global foreign investment and tourism. China is the No.1 trading partner with over 100 countries worldwide, including the United States, Russia, Japan, South Africa and most of the European countries. For many years in a row, China’s contribution to world economic growth has remained above 30%. In the next 5 years, China will import 10 trillion dollars of goods, invest over 750 billion dollars abroad, and is expected to have over 650 million tourists out of China.

Today, the Chinese have become the most welcome people in the world as China has become the main engine to drive the world economic growth and the main contributor to safeguard world peace and promote common prosperity. We have every reason to applaud for China’s development and to give thumbs-up to the success of Shenzhen.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This year marks the 20th anniversary of China-South Africa diplomatic relations, it has been a year of milestone importance in China-South Africa relations. In July, the Chinese President Xi Jinping paid his third successful state visit to South Africa and attended the BRICS Johannesburg Summit, making South Africa the only country in the world where President Xi Jinping has paid three state visits. On 24 July, the day before South Africa hosting the BRICS Summit, President Cyril Ramaphosa saved the whole day for the programs of President Xi Jinping’s state visit, during which the two Presidents had straight-out and indepth exchange of development ideas and strategies and jointly sketched out new blueprints for China-South Africa relations. In September, President Cyril Ramaphosa successfully paid his first state visit to China, where His Excellency co-chaired with President Xi Jinping the FOCAC Beijing Summit, jointly mapping out a new blueprint and opening up a new chapter for China-Africa and China-South Africa comprehensive cooperation. China-South Africa win-win cooperation for common development is now entering the golden time of harvest. I therefore find that this international conference couldn’t be more fitting at this moment in time, and bears tremendous significance.

Over the past 20 years, China-South Africa relations have achieved leapfrog development from partnership to strategic partnership to comprehensive strategic partnership. China-South Africa friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation have borne fruitful results and brought tangible and visible benefits to the peoples of China and South Africa. China has for 9 years remained South Africa’s largest trading partner, and South Africa has for 8 years in a row remained China’s biggest trading partner in Africa. In 2017, China-South Africa two-way trade reached US$39.17 billion, which accounts for one fourth of China-Africa trade. According to incomplete statistics, Chinese businesses have invested over US$25 billion in South Africa, creating over 400,000 local jobs. South Africa has become China’s most important investment destination in Africa and is fully ready to become the pilot country for connecting the Belt and Road Initiative with Africa.

Today, China-South Africa relations have developed four advantages, namely political mutual trust, mutually beneficial cooperation, people-to-people friendship, and international coordination; with three major characteristics of being strategic, all-dimensional, and mutually beneficial, and supported by four cooperation platforms, namely FOCAC, BRICS cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative, and South-South Cooperation, which have laid down solid political and economic foundation for the comprehensive and in-depth development of our win-win cooperation.

I have been involved in African affairs for a rather long period of time, and visited 38 countries on this continent, but South Africa is the one impresses me the most with its three unique advantages.

First, South Africa’s rich resources. South Africa boasts rich mineral resources, agricultural resources, ocean resources, and human resources. Ranked as world’s top 5 mining countries, South Africa enjoys the largest range of mineral resources with enormous reserve and output. South Africa’s reserve of gold, manganese ore, and chromite ore accounts for over 40% of the world’s total. Its platinum group of metals accounts for over 90% of the world’s total. Apart from the rich coal mineral reserves, South Africa also has tremendous potential for transitional and renewable energy development. Surrounded by the ocean on three sides, South Africa has rich fishery resources, and the marine economy has a huge development potential. With its abundant grasslands and farms, South Africa also ranks tops of Africa in animal husbandry. South Africa’s temperate climate also makes it an ideal place to produce mango, apple, plum, orange, pear, grape, and cherry. South African export of fruits and wine are gaining increasing popularity in China. And most importantly, South Africa’s rich human resources are among the best in developing countries in terms of quality and efficiency.

Second, South Africa’s superb location. Situated on the strategic passage on the seaway, South Africa is the only African country embraced by both the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. South Africa has its coastline of over 3,000 kilometers, along which are world famous port cities like Cape Town, Durban, and Port Elizabeth, offering a strong location advantage. South Africa also enjoys a strong aviation network that spans across Africa and beyond across the world. The OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg is the only African airport that offers direct connection to all six inhabited continents. As a gateway to Africa, South Africa’s agricultural produce and manufactured products can enter over 20 African countries tax-free or with very low tax rate.

Third, South Africa’s strongest foundation and condition for development. South Africa enjoys the best railway and road network in Africa, which well-connects the country both internally and externally to other neighboring countries. South Africa is politically stable, and has sound legal system, and a very mature and well-regulated market. The foundation and condition for development is second only to China in the developing world. In particular, South Africa has an advanced financial sector which is highly open, well-regulated, and offers a wide range of financial products. South Africa’s financial regulation has for many years ranked top of the world. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s market capitalization represents over 70% of publicly traded companies in Africa. More than 50 banks and financial institutions have opened branches or offices in South Africa. China’s top five banks, China-Africa Development Fund, and the BRICS New Development Bank have all set up offices in Johannesburg.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are very happy to see that President Cyril Ramaphosa is committed to improving government efficiency and investment environment, building a safe South Africa so as to attract more investment, develop economy, create more jobs to improve people’s livelihood. President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a New Investment Drive, and has successfully held the Investment Conference and Jobs Summit. These measures have received warm welcome and positive response from the business community both here in South Africa and abroad, and international investors’ confidence in South Africa continues to grow.

We are also very happy to see that the South African government has already started taking positive measures to address the three major concerns by Chinese investors and tourists. First, to build a safe and secure South Africa. Second, to provide better incentive policies and make sure policy certainty. Third, to improve the government service efficiencies. We are fully confident that, under the strong leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa will surely achieve successful economic and social transformation. We are also fully confident that moving forward, China-South Africa mutually beneficial cooperation will enjoy even broader prospect of growth.

China firmly supports the efforts of President Cyril Ramaphosa to attract investment, develop economy, create jobs and improve people’s livelihood. China is ready to become South Africa’s strongest and most reliable partner in its pursuit of economic and social development. We are willing to support South Africa to grow even stronger, and become the locomotive and the production base for African industrialization and modernization, and the pilot country for connecting the Belt and Road Initiative with Africa.

It is my sincere hope that all of our delegates will take time to visit special economic zones and industrial development zones such as Coega and Dube while you are here in South Africa, to explore the fresh investment opportunities. I believe that the Shenzhen spirit will have much to contribute in the new wave of China-South Africa win-win cooperation for common development. And I am strongly convinced that guided by such spirit, Shenzhen will make greater contribution to connecting the Belt and Road Initiative with Africa and to the China-South Africa and China-Africa friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation.

To conclude, I wish today’s conference a complete success!

Thank you!

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