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China-South Africa Relations Serve the Fundamental Interests of Our Two Countries and Two Peoples-Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Lin Songtian of China to South Africa at the Dialogue on the 20 Years of China-South Africa Engagements

8 November 2018 Wits University

Respected Professor Adam Habib, Wits University Vice-Chancellor and Principal,

Mr. David Malcomson, Chief Director for Regional Organizations from DIRCO,

Dr. Philani Mthembu, Executive Director of the Institute for Global Dialogue, University of South Africa (UNISA),

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

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning!

It is my great pleasure to visit the Wits University for the Dialogue on the 20 Years of China-South Africa Engagements. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa, I wish to extend my sincere thanks and warm congratulations on the timely hosting this event. I wish to thank the organizer for the hospitality and thoughtful arrangements. And I wish to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the Wits University, and particularly to Vice Chancellor and Principal Professor Adam Habib for your his support and personal involvement in this event.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of China-South Africa diplomatic relations. Twenty years ago, it was President Nelson Mandela who had made the major political decision to establish diplomatic relations with China on the basis of the One China policy. Since then, regardless of the changes in the international situations, the government and people of South Africa have always upheld the political commitment of the One China policy, laying down solid political foundation for the comprehensive and fast growth of China-SA relations. Today, we can say very proudly that, President Mandela and other wise leaders of SA have made the right decision with their strong sense of responsibility, great vision and strategic thinking. Their decision is not only consistent with the trend of history, but also has served well the fundamental interests of our two countries and two peoples. Their vision and historical contribution will be remembered forever.

Over the past two decades, thanks to our joint efforts, China-SA relations have achieved leapfrog development from partnership to strategic partnership and to comprehensive strategic partnership. Today, our relations have 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, our relations have brought visible and tangible benefits to the peoples of China and South Africa.

First, our political and strategic mutual trust has remarkably strengthened. We have always approached our bilateral relations from strategic height and long-term perspective, viewed each other as the strategic pivot and priority in our diplomacy, and have always understood and supported each other as we pursue development path suitable to our respective national conditions. South Africa is the only country in the world that the Chinese President Xi Jinping has paid three state visits to. In July, President Xi Jinping paid his third state visit to South Africa and attended the BRICS Johannesburg Summit. In September, President Cyril Ramaphosa paid his first state visit to China successfully and co-chaired with President Xi Jinping the FOCAC Beijing Summit. Through such frequent exchange of visits, our two countries have greatly strengthened political mutual trust, synergized development strategies, and sketched out new blueprint for future relations.

Second, China has become SA's most reliable cooperation partner in economic and social transformation. Today, China has already become SA’s largest trading partner and the main source of foreign investment and tourists. 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 ¼ of China-Africa trade, and represents an increase of 26 folds from the beginning of our diplomatic relations. Chinese businesses have invested over US$25 billion in South Africa, an increase of over a hundred times from 1998, creating over 400,000 local jobs. During President Xi Jinping’s visit in July, both sides reached a number of cooperation agreements worth of US$14.7 billion. When President Cyril Ramaphosa visited China in September, the two sides again signed multiple cooperation agreements. South Africa has gained access to China’s huge and fast growing market of 1.4 billion people, and has become an important destination for Chinese investment and tourists.

Third, people-to-people exchange has set up a good example in China-Africa relations. With our growing cooperation in education, culture, science and technology, health, youth, women, media, and think-tanks, the mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples continues to grow and deepen. China has become an increasingly popular destination of study, work, and tourism for the South African youth.

Fourth, China and SA have maintained close cooperation in regional and international issues to firmly uphold our common interests and that of the whole developing world. As major developing countries and emerging economies, both China and SA share the common interests and similar positions on regional and global affairs. China and SA have always close coordination and cooperation in the United Nations, G20, BRICS and FOCAC to firmly uphold multilateralism and the rule-based global free trade regime. Together, China and SA have played growing important roles in promoting a more democratic international order as well as more just and reasonable global governance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past two decades, the fast development of China-SA relations has not only produced abundant fruitful results, but also given us some very important and valuable experience, which in my view could be summarized as four commitments. First, remain committed to the principle of equality and mutual trust, respecting each other’s core interests and major concerns, always resolving issues through friendly consultation, and never ever interfering with the other’s internal affairs or forcing its own will onto others. Second, remain committed to the purpose of mutual benefit and win-win, promoting inclusive, win-win, and sustainable development, and never seeking “China First” or “China Only”. Third, remain committed to the people-centered approach, that everything we do should benefit the interests of our two peoples, and never seek to benefit only one party at the cost of the other. Fourth, remain committed to the principle of fairness and justice, jointly safeguarding world peace and promoting common development, and never breaking the rules at one’s own will, or sacrificing the common interests of the humanity for one’s selfish interest.

In my view, these four commitments are the basic and fundamental principles to ensure rapid and healthy development of China-SA relations, and shall become our common principles in promoting the new type of international relations and in building the community of a shared future for mankind. It is my strong belief that, state-to-state relations must serve the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples, and this should be the only standard by which any country or any people choose their best foreign relations. No other country has the right to interfere with the matter.

Today, as major developing countries and emerging economies, both China and South Africa have become important political forces in promoting economic globalization, free trade, and a more democratic international order and international governance regime. With membership in FOCAC, BRICS, G20, and the United Nations, China and South Africa shoulder unique responsibilities in promoting and safeguarding world peace and prosperity and the common interests of developing countries and emerging economies. Under the current circumstances of uncertainties in international politics, economics, and military affairs, and with the growing destabilizing factors, to strengthen China-SA unity and cooperation has become even more important, as it extends beyond bilateral context and gains strategic and global significance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up. Over the past four decades, China has achieved over 30 times of GDP growth, averaging an annual growth rate of 9.5%. Its foreign trade volume has been growing at 14.5% per year. China has created a development miracle never happened before in the textbook of human history. Today China has become the second largest economy, largest manufacturer, largest exporter of goods, the holder of the biggest foreign exchange reserve, and a major source of global foreign investment and tourism, and the second largest consumer market in the world. China’s contribution to world economic growth has remained above 30%, exceeding the contribution of all developed countries combined, making it the undisputed main engine for world economic growth.

Right now, the 1st China International Import Expo is being held in Shanghai. The Expo has attracted participation of 172 countries, regions and international organizations. Over 3,600 businesses from around the world, and over 400,000 purchasers from China and overseas are taking part in the Expo to seek business opportunities. It is the first ever national import expo in the world, which marks a major measure and concrete action of China to proactively open up its market, firmly support trade liberalization and economic globalization, build an open world economy, and share the future for common development.

South Africa ranks top of Africa in terms of its overall strengths. The country enjoys three unique advantages of rich resources, superb location, and best condition and foundation for economic development in Africa. Most importantly, South Africa now has its capable leadership by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who master and focus on economic development. On the other hand, China has the advantages of capital, technology, market, investors, and successful development experience. And more importantly, with its strong political commitment to be South Africa’s strongest cooperation partner in its pursuit of economic and social transformation, China is committed to making it a priority to share its market and development achievement with South Africa. We are full of confidence for SA’s economic and social development prospect, and we are willing to join and support South Africa’s efforts to 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.

Now, China-South Africa relations have already entered the golden time of harvest. Our common task is to take actions, actions, and actions. It is the right time for us together to take concrete actions to produce more real results and to benefit our two peoples. China is ready to join efforts closely with South Africa to fully implement the important agreements reached between our two Presidents as well as the outcomes of the BRICS Johannesburg Summit and the FOCAC Beijing Summit.

First, we should continue to keep up high-level exchanges, continue to understand and support each other on issues of core interests and major concerns, so as to further consolidate the political foundation for our bilateral relations. Second, we should work together to play a pilot and demonstration role in connecting the Belt and Road Initiative with Africa, and intensify win-win cooperation in infrastructure, human resources, industry and production capacity, blue economy, digital economy, energy and resources, finance, tourism, and poverty alleviation in rural areas. Third, we should continue to promote exchange and cooperation between think-tanks, media, civil organizations, and education, cultural, and research institutions, so as to provide intellectual support and a favorable environment for the growth of our ties. Fourth, we must join efforts to tackle global challenges, firmly uphold the rule-based multilateralism and international free trade regime, and resolutely oppose all forms of unilateralism, trade protectionism, hegemony and bullying, so as to safeguard the shared interests of China, South Africa, and the rest of the developing world.

To conclude, I wish today’s Dialogue a complete success.

Thank you!

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